More than satisfying state requirements, auto insurance policies provide drivers with a sense of comfort in knowing that they are covered in the event of a loss.
In the event of an auto insurance claim, the process of obtaining auto insurance estimates falls under the insurance company's responsibility. However, it would behoove the claimant to get alternative auto repair estimates. The estimates may come in handy if the insured feels the adjuster's numbers are a bit low. Read also: Extended Auto Warranty Companies.
Obtaining Alternative Auto Insurance Estimates
In Person Auto Insurance Estimates: If the car is in drivable condition, it's best to take it to one or two repair shops to get an estimate for the cost to fix the damages. Be sure to get the repair cost estimate in writing and itemized. Having the estimate in writing helps when negotiating with an insurance adjuster. Sometimes the adjuster may come in lower for a particular repair than the body shop is willing to accept. By having the estimate itemized, it's easier to see exactly where the discrepancies lie.
Online Car Repair Estimates: It's not always possible to bring the damaged car to a body shop to obtain auto insurance estimates, but there are a few online companies such as InstantEstimator.com that will give a ballpark repair cost over the internet. In addition to using their online form to preliminarily determine the damage, claimants are required to submit photos showing various angles of the damage. Read also: Renting Cars for Business or Pleasure.
When obtaining such quotes, keep in mind that in person estimates are best. It's difficult to address all of the outstanding problems from pictures. It's similar to seeking medical advice over the internet without having a full exam. It's nice to have, but it's not the same thing as an in-person exam.
Get Cost Confirmation from the Body Shop
Before walking away with the insurance company issued check, be sure the body shop can perform the repairs for the amount of the auto insurance estimate. It's nice to have a check in hand, but if the repair shop cannot fix the car at the estimated price, the claimant will either have to go back to the insurance company or pay for the difference out of pocket. Read also: Auto Insurance Factors and Buying a New Car.
Negotiating Auto Insurance Estimates after the Fact
Once the adjuster writes the insurance check for the damages it's not necessarily a done deal. If the adjuster overlooked something that must be fixed as part of the repair, or, there is a discrepancy in repair pricing in the local area contact the adjuster. Most auto insurance adjusters are reasonable and will re-open the file to make adjustments as long as the claimant has verifiable proof for the additional costs.