How to Get a Body Shop Estimate
Whether you have had a small fender bender or your car has been close to demolished, getting a body shop estimate is one of the first steps that you need to take to get your car back to looking like new. The process of hiring a body shop to repair your vehicle can be stressful, particularly if you have just experience an automobile accident. Follow these steps to simplify the process and get your car back quicker.
How to Proceed
Communicate with your insurance agency. Depending on your policy, you may be required to provide certain documentation to your insurance agent when you hire a body shop to repair your car. It is best to know what these requirements are before hand. In some cases, your insurance company may only allow you to use certain body shops with which they are associated. The last thing you want to do is wind up having to pay the body shop out of your own pocket because the required paper trail was not in place.
Compile a list. It is always best to shop around for body shop estimates. Although there will not be a huge discrepancy in price, you might be able to find a shop that offers a slightly lesser price and a quicker turnaround time than all of the others. Ask your insurance company, friends, family members, and co-workers for referrals. People will be quick to share with you a positive experience and also quick to discourage you from using body shops that are not dependable. Try to follow-up with at least three or four referrals before hiring a body shop.
Ask the right questions. There are several key pieces of information that you need to gather when you ask a body shop for a quote. First, ask for a general base price for the required repairs, including labor. Although the body shop might not be able to give you an exact price, they should offer you a range in which to grand total will fall. Second, ask for an expected turnaround time. Lastly, question the business’s payment arrangement. Ask if you will be asked to sign a payment agreement that lists the expected price and the date that the work is expected to be completed. Also check on the types of payment they accept, such as cash, personal check or credit card. If you have a large insurance deductible, you may have to make financial arrangements to pay the body shop.
Weigh your options and choose a shop. Depending on the severity of your car’s damage, you may have to arrange for it to be towed to the body shop. Many body shops employ their own tow trucks and can add this expense to your final bill.
Wait patiently. Body shop repairs often take quite a while. Feel free to call your body shop periodically to check on the progress of your vehicle’s repairs. When they are completed, promptly pay the body shop and pick up your vehicle.
Understand that your first experience with a body shop is almost bound to be frustrating. As long as you hire a reputable body shop and communicate with your insurance agent during the process, you can rest assured that your vehicle will be repaired and ready to drive as soon as possible.
Andrei Zakhareuski is the founder of Driving-Tests.org. He has been writing for beginner US drivers for several years.
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