How Insurance Companies Estimate Car Damages for Claims
Being involved in an automobile accident, no matter how minor, can be a very stressful experience. Most automobile insurance carriers are just as anxious as their policy holders to get collision and liability claims settled as quickly as possible in as hassle-free a manner as possible. But in order to determine how much money is needed to repair your vehicle damaged in either an accident or a severe weather event, they need to estimate what damages took place in order to know how much money it will take for repairs.
Insurance Adjuster’s Role
Although it used to be that most insurance companies required the policy holder to obtain two or three different estimates from assorted repair shops, most insurance providers today simplify the estimate process by providing their own experienced insurance adjuster to assess the amount of damage and costs involved in order to settle a claim as quickly as possible. If a car has been totaled and is not driveable, the insurance company can send their adjuster to the garage or body shop where the car is being housed in order to do an on-site evaluation. If the car is still in safe operating condition, the driver should make an appointment to meet with the insurance adjuster at an agreed-upon location so that the required inspection can take place.
The Evaluation Process
Taking photographs of any damaged areas on your vehicle is an important part of the evaluation process conducted by an insurance adjuster. He then creates an estimate using a special computer software program to identify the cost of the parts it will take to repair the vehicle in addition to local labor costs to complete such work. This estimate can then be reviewed by the body shop selected by the policy holder and further negotiations can take place if the body shop needs supplemental funds to complete all the necessary work. In any event, the amount of the insurance deductible must come out of the policy holder’s pocket first in order to pay the repair bill upon completion.
Quality of Repair Parts
Ask if your vehicle is authorized to receive newly manufacturered Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts for repair or less expensive generic brand after-market parts.If you insist on OEM parts, you are allowed to pay the difference if they are not authorized by your insurance company.
Evaluating Total Loss
If the insurance company determines that the cost to repair your vehicle is more than 75% of its current market value, it declares the car a total loss even though the damage sustained may be minor and the car may still be safe to drive. The insurance company then offers a cash settlement based on their calculations of the cash value on your vehicle based on its replacement cost and condition.