DO I HAVE TO GET MORE THAN ONE ESTIMATE?
No law requires that you get more than one estimate. The laws of the State of Alaska allow the consumer to choose any shop. The only requirement is that you notify your insurance company of your loss and where you are having your vehicle repaired. Your insurance company is required by law to work with the shop of your choice, in good faith, and to pay a fair price to restore your vehicle to pre-loss condition.
I HAVE AN ESTIMATE WRITTEN BY MY INSURANCE COMPANY’S APPRAISER THAT IS MUCH LOWER THAN COLLISION MASTERS’ ESTIMATE. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
General, the initial estimate written by most insurance companies is based the least expensive possible method of repairing the car, with little regard for the quality of repair or your vehicle manufacture’s required repair procedures. This is considered a rough estimate and lacks detail, often including only obvious major items. The insurance company knows that the actual cost of repair will be higher, but also hopes you may not fix the vehicle and will “cash out” based on their initial appraisal, often saving them hundreds or thousands of dollars. Our approach to estimate writing is far different. We know you want your car repaired properly and in the least amount of time possible. Therefore, we aim to write the most thorough and complete estimate possible. We are attempting to capture all the visible damage so that our repair plan encompasses everything required to fix the vehicle in the least amount of time. Once you authorize Collision Masters to handle your repair, we’ll make sure your insurance company is provided all the documentation necessary to cover the cost of repairs in full.
MY INSURANCE COMPANY’S ESTIMATE SPECIFIES AFTERMARKET OR USED PARTS IN THE REPAIR OF MY VEHICLE. DO I HAVE TO ACCEPT THIS?
Some insurance policies now include language that allows them to only pay for cheap imitation parts or junkyard parts. These inferior parts are referred to in policies and insurance company estimates as A/M (Aftermarket) or LKQ (Like Kind and Quality). In almost all cases imitation parts do not match the safety, fitment of appearance quality of original equipment factory parts. Used parts almost always require extensive refurbishing (at additional cost) to equal new factory parts. If your policy limits coverage to these types of replacement parts, you will have to decide if you want to pay the difference between the cost of the cheaper parts and factory parts. Collision Masters does not recommend the use of such parts. If you choose not to cover the difference in cost, we will either decline to repair your vehicle or revoke our warranty related to the use of such parts.
DO I HAVE TO TAKE MY CAR TO THE SHOP RECOMMENDED BY MY INSURANCE COMPANY?
It’s your car, your choice. No law requires you to use the insurance company’s suggested repair shop. You can take your car to any shop you decide will do the best job for you. At Collision Masters our main concern is that your vehicle is properly returned to pre-accident condition with respect to safety, function, and appearance, and with the least amount of inconvenience to you. We recognize that you, not the insurance company are our customer, and we strive to give you the best repair, the one you deserve. Many insurance companies maintain a network of Preferred Shops that have agreed to work at reduced rates (and lower quality standards) for the sole purpose of saving themselves money (often at your expense through inferior repairs). Insurance companies often use many tactics to steer you into using their preferred shops such as:
• Collision Masters is not on our list. We will not guarantee the repairs unless you take it to our preferred shop. The fact is that your insurance company does not guarantee the repairs in any case. If a warranty issue arises from the repair work, your insurance company will send you back to the shop that fixed it for resolution. If for some reason you will not or cannot take it back to the original repair shop, they may arrange for another shop to do the work, but will ultimately go after the original repair shop to foot the bill. You can rest assured that Collision Masters will stand behind the work we perform with our lifetime warranty.
• If you use Collision Masters, there will be delays getting our adjuster out to review the damage. Take it to our preferred shop and the work can be started on right away. This is another steering tactic to lead you away from the shop of your choice. Most insurance companies no longer have local adjusters. Most claims are reviewed and processed via photos and email by non-local employees or contractors. Response time by your insurance company depends entirely on the volume of claims and how your claim is prioritized by your insurance company. When you bring your vehicle to Collision Masters, we do everything possible to get your insurance company our initial estimate and any other requested documentation in order to get your claim underway promptly.
• If you use Collision Masters, you will have to pay for your rental car out of pocket. That is not true. Some insurance companies may try to force you to pay for your rental car up front with a credit card and then reimburse you, or offer you a check for a set amount per day. You should refuse any such offer. Insurance companies generally have direct payment agreements with rental car companies. There is no reason for you to have to be saddled with any additional rental costs.
• Collision Masters charges more than the prevailing rate and you will have to pay any difference in repair costs. Collision Masters’ labor rates are comparable to most other body shops in the area. Just because the insurance company can get a lower rate at one or more of their in-network shops, that does not make it the local market rate. Your insurance is obligated through your policy (contract) to pay the cost of restoring your vehicle to pre-loss condition. Any additional fees or costs that may arise will be discussed with you and are subject to your approval.
• Claims take longer if you use Collision Masters. The only thing that takes longer is the insurance company’s response time. Often the insurance company will use delayed response time or initially refuse to pay for necessary procedures in an effort to negotiate lower overall repair costs. Such practices do increase the time to complete the repair, or cause delays waiting for payment after repairs are complete. All such delays are solely within the insurance company’s power to mitigate.
These are just some examples of the kinds of tactics we have seen insurance companies use in an effort to get you to take your car to another shop and away from the shop of your choice. Be careful, it’s your vehicle and your investment that’s at stake. You have the right to choose who repairs your vehicle. Let Collision Masters help with the claims process. We work with all insurance companies to ensure that you and your vehicle are properly taken care of.
WHAT IF THE COST OF REPAIRS IS MORE THAN COLLISION MASTERS’ ESTIMATE? WILL MY INSURANCE COMPANY STILL PAY FOR IT?
Modern vehicles are very complex, with sophisticated electronic systems and layers of parts below the exterior surface that cannot be seen without removing parts. Our initial estimate will only include items and operations we can verify visually. When the repair process begins, parts are removed and additional damage is often uncovered. Additional damage found during this process is referred to as supplemental damage. Any additional damage discovered during repairs is documented and submitted for approval to you and your insurance company as a supplement to the original estimate. Your insurance company is required to cover the cost of restoring your vehicle to pre-loss condition whether the cost is reported on the initial estimate or through the supplemental process. When repairs are complete Collision Masters will provide a detailed final invoice to the insurance company for payment and to you for your records.
WILL MY INSURANCE RATES GO UP?
Your rates may or may not go up. If your car is damaged due to another person’s fault and their policy covers the cost of repair, you are considered the claimant and your rates should not be affected. If your vehicle damage will be covered under your policy, your rates may be affected. Generally, whether your rates go up will depend on your policy language, your driving record and who is at fault. You may want to check your policy or ask your insurance agent to find the answer for your specific circumstances.