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Old 11-10-2010, 07:46 AM   #15
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: VA
Posts: 13,119
My Ride: E60M
Originally Posted by carsos View Post
when my car was pretty new, someone threw a chunk of concrete through my sunroof, smashing it and f'ing up the interior. the insurance company estimated it at $700. i knew that was waaaaay low, and the adjuster told me not to worry, it would be adjusted if the shop estimated more. i left my car at the dealer (leave that aside for a second) and told them i would be going through insurance. the dealer called back quickly and said $700 was laughable, but a short time later the adjuster called me to say he determined that the dealer "started the work" and the claim wouldn't be adjusted. for a a smashed sunroof, scratched up driver's seat, and cracked wood trim, i got a $200 check and was basically told to **** right off.

i chalked this up to my own fault for not knowing enough about making a claim, so i just took it as a "live and learn" type of thing... but in retrospect, the dealer couldn't have done any real work by that point. they called me asking which repairs from the list i wanted them to go forward with, since it wasn't going to be covered... and i said sunroof only. so they definitely hadn't fixed anything by then. maybe they had vacuumed out glass and took the headliner down, but nothing was repaired.

now i know more about how claims work, i don't think that should have counted as "starting the work" and i think i got boned. thoughts?
That's a weird one, and I'd really need to know more of what happened on the insurance/dealer side to figure it out. I can tell you, though, that my initial estimate will, most of the time, need to be supplemented. I can only write the damage that I see, no more, no less. With an interior job like that, though, it's usually pretty easy.

I write supplements all the time after the work has started, but the shop has to know that they can't just give us a bill at the end and expect us to pay it all. Every estimate we write has the line "All supplements require 100% reinspection, no exceptions." And gives our supplement fax line, and tells the shop that if they don't hear from someone within 24 hours of the fax to call the original adjuster. I've had shops try to throw in replacement parts and not keep the originals before, in which case I can only deny the supplement and let the customer know what's going on.

I tell customers all the time to not worry about the total cost of repair, and really, they shouldn't. The total cost is simply a negotiated amount between the shop and the insurance company. What the customer should worry about is that all their concerns regarding damage have been addressed. If there is damage on the car from the accident that doesn't appear on the estimate, ask about it. The adjuster should be able to give you an explanation as to why it's not on there.

And don't forget, that we are just people. We make mistakes sometimes. If I miss damage, I will hand write and sign on the estimate for the shop to supplement it back to us (if it's minor), or I'll simply rewrite the estimate if, for some reason, there are several things.

Remember that shops and insurance companies write estimates from two different perspectives. A shop writes an estimate as money coming in for them, and money going out for you. The last thing they want to do is call you up halfway through a repair and say "Oh, by the way, we thought X part was going to be repairable, but we need to replace it. That's going to cost you $500 more." We write estimates as money going out for us, so we want to keep that estimate as tight as possible. It doesn't break my heart at all if a shop calls me and tells me they need more money.
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