Crash Course

How many estimates must I get?

Generally, only one (1). Any additional estimates requested will be at the expense of the liable party.


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You will likely not need any repair estimates as most insurance companies hire their own appraisers to evaluate the damage to your vehicle.


You may then show that estimate to your prospective repair shops as part of your interview process.  As you are the owner of the damaged vehicle, you have the right to select what shop will be making the repairs. You will need to make sure you have chosen a quality repair facility that you are comfortable with to do the best work on your vehicle. Referrals from other friends may help in your decision. Back to top

Will the repair shop report my vehicle's damage to any internet auto information service such as Carfax?

We at Crown Coachworks firmly believe that the damage and repairs to your vehicle are your private matter and therefore do not disclose any information about your vehicle repairs to any other party without your express permission. If any information is found online after your vehicle repairs, it has likely been posted through public record or an insurance company network. Back to top

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Am I required to follow my insurance company ‘authorized’ repair shop list?

NO! Often, the referred repair shops are serving the insurance company first and the consumer second. Select a repair facility that understands its obligations are to you, the consumer, and exercise caution when someone tells you that the repairs can be performed ‘cheaper’ somewhere else. Keep in mind that, as the owner, you have the right to choose the repair methods best suited to restore your vehicle.


The standard measure of damages is the ‘reasonable’ cost of necessary repairs. Therefore, a cheaper repair shop may focus simply on price and not much else.



WARNING:  You need to be aware of DRP (Direct Referral Program), insurance referral shops and "economy" (after-market imitation) body parts.
DRP Shops have usually signed an agreement with an insurance company where the shop will have agreed to:


In return for these concessions, the insurance company directs vehicle owners to that ‘authorized’ repair shop. Not all DRP shops will do inferior repairs. But understand that all insurance authorized repair shops are serving the insurance company first and the consumer second. Be wise and recognize the underlying motives of an insurance company referring you to a specific shop or group of shops on their ‘list’. The use of Economy parts are usually part of the DRP shop agreements we referenced above. Economy parts is a euphemism for after-market, reproduction, or used body parts. There is extensive evidence to show that some of these ‘economy parts’ are substantially inferior in fit, finish, corrosion resistance and crash integrity. If economy parts are included on your estimate to repair your vehicle damage, question the estimator for his reasoning. We generally recommend against the use of economy parts. Back to top

Who is responsible for payment to the repair shop – the insurance company or me?

You are. Your insurance policy contract states that your insurance company will pay you for the damages to your vehicle, less the deductible amount. You may instruct your insurance company to pay the repair shop of your choice directly. However, full payment must be arranged prior to your vehicle being picked up. Back to top

Can the insurance company authorize a repair shop to start repairs on my vehicle without my consent?

NO! Only the vehicle owner may authorize repairs. Before repairs are started, you must be presented with an estimate to know what is being repaired on your vehicle. An ethical repair facility will provide you a written estimate on repairs, and require your signed authorization to start repairs. Back to top

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Another driver damaged my car by his negligence. Should I have my own insurance company pay for the repairs, or have that driver (or his insurance company) pay for them?

If you go through your  insurance company, you will be bound to the terms of the contract or policy you signed with your insurance company. (It would be a good time to read your policy) Your insurance company will be performing the service your premiums paid for.  If you proceed through the other drivers’ insurance company, you have no prior agreement in force. You will be a claimant against their liability coverage and be entitled to recover all costs to indemnify you. The benefits and drawbacks associated with each settlement option should be financially and personally considered. An attorney can give you a full explanation of your rights and obligations before you decide how to pursue a particular claim. You may be limited by your insurance company contract, but the at-fault party cannot limit your vehicle's repairs. Back to top

Will my repaired vehicle be worth what it was before the accident?

Probably not! If your vehicle was substantially damaged in the current accident and has no history of significant collision involvement, you probably have sustained a post-repair reduction in the resale value of your vehicle. In most states you are entitled to be compensated, by the other party's insurance company (if the other party were at fault), for any reduction in the resale value of your repaired vehicle.The age and mileage context of your vehicle may affect the amount of this value. 


Generally speaking, there are three categories of Diminished Value that may affect the resale value of your collision repaired vehicle:

Inherent Diminished Value

This is the minimum Diminished Value that would occur simply because your vehicle now has a significant collision history. This would apply even if optimum repair results had been achieved.

Insurance Related Diminished Value 

This form of Diminished Value would be in addition to Inherent Diminished Value. This would apply if and when an insurance company has mandated the use of inferior replacement parts and/or inappropriate procedural techniques in the repair of your vehicle. In most cases, the savings realized by short-cutting the repairs to your vehicle are more than lost by having to pay for Insurance Related Diminished Value claims.

Repair-Related Diminished Value

This happens when the repairing facility fails to meet the minimum standards of repair quality for which they have been paid. Repair Related Diminished Value is owed to you by the repairing shop. An ethical repair facility will normally address these type of repair issues as part of their workmanship warranty.


To collect for Diminished Value will require a detailed report addressing each of the value categories outlined above. Said report should be from a recognized authority who understands appropriate collision repair techniques and is familiar with vehicle values in your local market area. Letters from Used Car Dealers are not usually sufficient. Back to top


Copyright by Insurance Consumer Advocate Network. Reprinted with permission.


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