Consumers need a basic understanding of the “Insurer Driven” estimating process.
Your insurance company will tell you that they have to write their own estimate first and then you can take that estimate to your shop and have them review it. First of all you must remember that insurance companies do not repair cars. They pay claims to their insured. The insurer estimate serves no purpose in the repair process. It should never be used to determine the parts, repair procedures or methodology of repairs. The insurer estimate is only a means for the insurance company to put a reserve amount on your claim. They may tell you differently, but that’s all it can establish. As a consumer in need of collision repairs, you should FIRST seek out a SHOP OF YOUR CHOICE and allow them to prepare a “Blueprint of Repair”. A properly documented blueprint will establish what restoration operations and parts are necessary to return your damaged vehicle to its pre-loss condition and will also contain a cost evaluation for those services. Beware of shops that tell you they work with all insurance companies. These shops can not serve two masters, so when the repair begins, you, the vehicle owner will be left out of the loop and you will have two disinterested parties making decisions for you. Don’t let this happen. Protect your investment. Keep involved in the repair process.
As someone once told me, “Never take advice from someone who owes you money”
There are many web sites that can explain the process and give you information that you can use when dealing with an insurance company or third party responsible to pay you for your repairs. The two links below will help answer some of your questions.
Coalition for Collision Repair Excellence ( the CCRE )
Insurance Consumer Advocate Network ( I-CAN )