3. Bargain shopping is not your goal. Value is.
Your truck or car is a big investment, and your safety relies on it working properly. Have your vehicle repaired by a professional body shop that continually upgrades skills and certifications every year.
Sure, differences in repair estimates are common. But lower estimates may not include all the necessary work, or account for invisible damage. Today's vehicles are pretty high-tech with as many as 1000+ microchips in a non-electric vehicle and twice that in an electric one. So, looking for a bargain is unwise.
Here’s a little secret: when it comes to labor-intensive, service-driven, technical industries like auto repairs – whether collision or mechanical – price is not as big as driver as you think. Insiders know to choose “quality, safety, and service” over price every time.
Why? Times have changed dramatically since your father’s Oldsmobile. The cost of body and paint materials quadrupled over 50 years up to 2010 – long before the pandemic or inflationary times. Business insurance, taxes, and utility bills increased too.
You know what didn’t change much? Labor rates. Wages across the industry overall remain stagnant and undervalued for skilled collisions technicians – along with a persistent labor shortage.
What does this mean to you? Well, insurance companies keep collision labor rates pretty steady within a defined limit. Yet for the body shop, it’s one of the top costs of doing business. So, the real difference for you is not the price – but a shop you can trust and that delivers high quality, customer service and open, modern communication – everything from texts and emails to a good old-fashioned phone call to discuss solutions for your situation.
Oh sure, you say, but won’t the insurance company want the lowest-cost solution? Well, yes and no. On the one hand, your insurer won’t approve an unrelated and unnecessary repair, such as a broken air conditioner that was leaking before the accident.
On the other hand, let’s be real. Automotive repairs are not price-driven – they are value-driven. So, if your truck bed needs to be replaced or your crumpled hood needs not only pre-painted replacement parts but new Clear Bra (paint protection film), the insurance company will approve that. Why? Because the labor hours matter as much as the parts themselves.
Why spend 40 hours to get an 80% "semi-good repair" with used parts rather than 10 hours on a 100% perfect repair with new OEM parts? In the end, it may cost the insurer less to completely replace or repaint a damaged part. Either way, you should expect pre-accident condition.
However, if your OEM part is discontinued, the insurance company will approve a used or after-market part. (More on that in the next section.)