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Adjuster Repair Estimate
Do I have to take the adjuster repair estimate?
The answer is “it depends”.
It depends on what you are trying to accomplish.
If you are taking your car to a bodyshop (not the dealership) to have it fixed, then you have more leverage to negotiate.
You can ask the insurance company to take your shop’s estimate into account and have them negotiate directly with your mechanic (or bodyshop). This is a common process and most bodyshops do take the insurance company’s repair estimate at their face value.
Some will negotiate with the insurance company and often come to an agreement.
Most of the time, the bodyshop gives up and complies with the insurance company’s requirements because the insurance company is a very powerful source of business.
Insurance companies can refer hundreds if not thousands of vehicle collisions to few bodyshops. They have the upper hand when dealing with mechanical shops. If you are in this situation, you can have the adjuster’s repair estimate compared with that of the bodyshop’s and have them come to an agreement.
However, if you are trying to fix the car yourself, then the insurance company will press their adjuster repair estimate. They will write one estimate and tell you that this is what they will pay (minus the deductible).
The bodyshop will give you a check for what they believe the cost of repairs is. They will allow a “reasonable” labor rate and the cost of parts. Since most likely you are not a mechanic, insurance companies will not negotiate their estimate with you.
You must take that amount.
If you show them estimates from other shops, they will want to contact those mechanics to make sure that you are getting your car fixed there. If you are, then they will first issue payment to you for the amount their adjuster repair estimate states.
They will not pay the difference between their estimate and the estimate of the other shop until the repairs are completed. Once the vehicle is fixed, they will issue a second payment. They call this a supplemental payment.
Insurance companies will pay for the repairs if they are reasonable and necessary.
They will not pay you directly unless your car is fixed. This way they know that they are not paying for more than they should. They will issue the first payment, but not the supplemental payment.
The only caveat is if you are dealing with your own insurance company and you have a car loan. Insurance companies want to make sure that your bank is aware of the situation, so they will issue payment to the bank first.
If you are expecting a check (and you have a loan), the insurance company must put the name of the bank in the check. The bank must sign before the funds are released.
Banks usually do not release the funds, but instead they apply the money to the balance of your loan. Your insurance policy spells out that process in the financial responsibility section. If you are dealing with someone else’s insurance, then you are not bound by the policy and they can pay you directly with what the adjuster repair estimate says.
You only have to prove the ownership of the car (show your title or registration).
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