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Low-balled estimate for damages (labor costs)

My parked car was struck by a rented commercial truck. That driver is at fault and did take full responsibility. No question about liability. I received a settlement payment which is about 1/3 less than the estimates I got from body shops.

I asked for and received a copy of their estimate. The shop they used for their estimate is not even listed in our local directory and I had never heard of them before. A quick online search came up with a company affiliated with aftermarket parts. Obviously I won’t take it there as I do not trust their workmanship or quality of parts.

The big difference other than some missed damages and not taking into account removal and reinstallation of some parts (they did their appraisal without me present) is in the labor cost. I'm taking a copy of this appraisal to my body shop so they can submit their estimate and begin arbitration, but what I'm most concerned about is the difference in labor cost.

Their shop is quoting a labor price of $18 an hour. Obviously these are not qualified body shop repairmen but 'techs' of some sort. My question is do they have to pay for reasonable labor costs? I've read in at least one of your articles about the difference between dealer and body shop labor rates but this is a cost well below even body shop labor rates. This will obviously impact a great deal on the overall cost.

Do I have to accept an unreasonable amount for labor costs? Thank you.


Well, $18 for very low. This is unlikely to be upheld, unless the other shops are in the ball park. Insurance does not have to pay for dealer prices, but usually non dealer shops charge about the same.

Good Luck

Comments for Low-balled estimate for damages (labor costs)

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Apr 11, 2012
by: Anonymous

Not only that but now when you go to sell your car, carfax will report it was in an accident. Chances are that when you go to sell your car eventually it might not have been in an accident. Cars in accidents get less than cars not. They are screwing you on the futuristic sale of the vehicle.

Apr 19, 2011
2 estimates 2500 difference
by: Joshua

I got an estimate from a local body shop(5200). The insurance company had me go to a dealership to get an estimate(2700). There was a big difference between the two estimates. What can I do. It wasn't my fault that i got hit. I have a nice car and I want it to stay nice and not get crappy parts. The dealers turned there estimate into the insurance company. I don't want to be screwed. I'm not trying to take advantage of them. I just want to be treated fairly. I want my car to look like it did before I got hit.

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