Why Shouldn’t You Rely On Your Initial Damage Estimate?

Everyone knows that dealing with an accident involves getting an initial estimate. You may seek an estimate on your own from a body shop or wait for an insurance adjuster to perform their inspection. However, there are limitations to this initial inspection. Unsurprisingly, an estimate isn't always enough to tell you the final cost of a repair.

Understanding the Limitations of Damage Estimates

Estimating the damage to a vehicle after a collision is a non-invasive process. Regardless of the condition of your car, your adjuster or body shop will not want to cause any additional problems while examining it. Unfortunately, this "do no harm" approach means that they won't always be able to determine how much hidden damage is present.

A typical estimate from a body shop will involve a visual inspection, a computer check, and a wheel alignment, if possible. This final step helps determine if there may be underlying frame damage since a vehicle that can't accept an alignment back to manufacturer specifications may have structural issues. This information provides a skin-deep look at the damage you'll need to repair.

Still, the complexity of modern vehicles means that skin-deep is rarely enough. As technicians in the body shop work on fixing the visible damage, they'll often discover far more issues beneath the surface. These problems may be mechanical, such as damaged suspension components, or there may be further issues with the body panel and structure that only become obvious during disassembly.

Going Below the Surface

Once you select a body shop to repair your car, they'll usually start with a thorough disassembly process. It can be a little disheartening to see a beloved ride taken apart piece by piece, but it's necessary to conduct repairs correctly and find any lurking problems. In many cases, the cost of the repair may increase as technicians remove body panels and find additional issues.

If your insurance company is covering the repair, you can expect a substantial amount of back-and-forth communication between them and your body shop. The repair team will provide your insurance company with updated estimates, allowing them to adjust the overall settlement and ensure the shop can restore your car to its original condition.

Because initial damage estimates rarely give you a complete picture of the final cost of a repair, it's important not to focus on them too much. Collision repair is a complex process, and it's nearly impossible to determine everything that may be wrong with a car from a visual inspection alone.  

For more information, contact a collision repair shop near you.