UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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If your vehicle has been damaged in an accident or collision, then you need to obtain a repair estimate before getting back on the road.
But how many repair estimates should you get? Should you get multiple car repair estimates before choosing one? Today, we’re explaining how experts recommend dealing with car repair estimates.
One Estimate from a Good Repair Shop May Be Enough
Some experts recommend getting three estimates from three separate repair shops every time your car needs to be repaired.
Generally, getting multiple estimates is unnecessary, especially for minor repairs. One estimate from a reputable repair shop is often enough.
Getting three estimates can be a hassle. It can delay the claims process and leave your car off the road for an extended period of time.
However, if you feel your insurance company is offering a low payout, or if you think the body shop is charging too much or too little, then you may want to request a second or third opinion.
Overall, however, it’s best to get one really good estimate from a trusted repair shop than to get three average estimates from unknown repair shops.
If Concerned About Repair Costs, Get at Least Three Estimates
Your insurance company might recommend using a specific repair shop. Generally, the repair shops recommended by your insurance company are high-quality, honest repair shops. They offer excellent service, and they understand the type of paperwork needed by your insurance company. You can expect a smooth and fair claims process 95% of the time.
However, not all repair shops are honest and high-quality. Even the repair shops recommended by your insurer could try to take advantage of you. They might try to use third-party parts instead of stock parts, for example.
For that reason, some experts recommend getting at least three estimates on car repairs, especially for higher-value claims.
On lower-value claims, you might be okay with just two estimates. Or, if you trust your insurance company and it’s a relatively minor repair, you might want to avoid the hassle and go with your insurer’s recommended repair shop.
Get Estimates from Well-Established Collision Repair Shops
The best estimates obviously come from people who know what they’re talking about. Ideally, you’ll find a repair shop with firsthand experience performing similar repairs on your type of vehicle.
Let’s say you have a less common vehicle – like a higher-end exotic vehicle. You might not be able to take that vehicle to your average small-town body shop to get it repaired. It’s in your best interest to take it to someone who specializes in repairing higher-end, exotic vehicles.
Put simply, the repair shops recommended by your insurance company might not have the experience needed to give an accurate estimate – even if they genuinely want to.
How to Compare Multiple Estimates
Getting three estimates is generally a good idea because it allows you to get a better average range for repair costs.
With three estimates, you can throw out the cheapest and most expensive estimate, then take the estimate in the middle.
Or, you can add up all three estimates and divide the total by three to get the average estimated cost to repair your vehicle.
Ideally, your insurer’s payout offer should be very close to the average estimated cost to repair your vehicle.
Don’t Base your Estimate on Price Alone
Getting a second or third opinion on car repair costs is essential. At the same time, it’s important not to base your estimate on price alone.
Estimates for collision repairs vary greatly. One body shop might tell you it will cost $2,000 to repair the damage, while another body shop tells you it will cost $10,000.
If your insurance adjuster recommends choosing a shop where the cost is substantially lower than the other estimates you’ve received, then be wary. You might not be satisfied with the finished product.
At the same time, higher-price repair shops may inflate costs. They might charge too much for labor or add parts to your car that you don’t really need.
Finally, some drivers don’t mind paying a higher repair bill even if the insurance company doesn’t cover it. Your insurance company might offer $4,000 to repair your vehicle with aftermarket parts, for example, although you’re willing to spend $5,000 total to repair your vehicle with original parts. This is within your rights.
Ultimately, getting multiple repair quotes from every shop in town can be a waste of time. Generally, a single repair estimate from an authorized, reputable, high-quality repair shop is all you need.
However, if the repair bill is particularly costly, or if you’re concerned about your insurance company or the body shop, then you may want to get a second or third opinion. It’s never a bad idea to get a second or third opinion on car insurance repairs – although it’s often unnecessary when you work with a good repair shop.