Is a Visual Estimate Good Enough?

Whenever you get in an auto accident, your first question is probably, “When will my car be fixed?”


If you’re working with an insurance company, repairs might take a bit longer than if you were paying out of pocket, because the company will want an estimate of damages before issuing payment. In general, that estimate will come from one of two sources:

The insurance company’s own adjuster will inspect the vehicle. You’ll either drive it to an inspection at a facility or the adjuster will come out to look at it at your home or the shop.

Or, you’ll bring the vehicle to a repair shop for an estimate. The insurance company will need to approve this estimate before repairs can begin.

In either case, the key to getting your vehicle repaired quickly is obtaining an accurate estimate at the outset.

Supplements Slow Down the Repair Process

A visual estimate is one that looks at the exterior of the vehicle, assessing the visual damage. It does not remove any parts to assess structural damage. This can be a problem as auto accidents frequently cause hidden damages as well as those visible to the naked eye. And when hidden damage is discovered during the repairs process, the repair will often grind to a halt as a supplemental estimate is written and approved and any new parts are ordered.

It’s much faster to complete a single thorough estimate at the outset. This estimate involves a tear-down and inspection of all affected areas, not just the ones visible from the outside.

Getting an Accurate Estimate Every Time

If your body shop is a member of your insurance company’s direct repair program (DRP), the estimation process is often simplified: You can skip meeting with the adjuster and just go straight to the shop, who will do a tear-down, inspection and begin the repairs right away without needing to wait for additional approval.

However, if your insurance company does not use the shop of your choice as a DRP, that’s OK. Just be sure that the shop you work with always completes full tear-down estimates – not visual-only – before ordering parts. That’s the way we do things at Quanz Auto Body, and it’s the method that will save you the most time and hassle while your vehicle is being repaired.