Should You Rely on Insurance Photo Estimates?

insurance photo estimate, insurance photosMore insurance companies are expediting the claims process via instant insurance photo estimates. All you have to do is take a photo of the damage and submit it to the agency. A few weeks later, you get a check in the mail. Is this process reliable, or are you being low-balled?

The Truth About Insurance Photo Estimates

We don’t question that photo estimates are convenient and a time saver. This cuts down on a lot of logistics for both the insured driver and insurance agency. Some companies even have their own crash claim app.

You should definitely take photos of all collision damage, including minor dents and auto paint scratches. However, according to insurance data, two out of three claims are underpaid if claims are resolved within 48 hours. The odds increase with sole reliance on photo estimates. Continue Reading →

Preliminary Vs Accurate Repair Estimate: What’s the Difference?

repair estimate, preliminary estimate, accurate estimateFor a collision, or any other auto repair, you need to acquire a repair estimate. One of the questions we often receive is whether we charge for an estimate. The short answer is no. More accurately, though, it depends whether you want a preliminary estimate or an accurate estimate.

What Is a Preliminary Repair Estimate?

We provide a preliminary repair estimate free of charge. In fact, we suggest staying away from any collision shops that charge for this basic service.

For a preliminary estimate, bring your car to our shop. We will make note of the visible damages, determine labor cost, and factor additional work, such as auto paint restoration.

The process is free, but the estimate in the ballpark. Expect the actual cost to be plus or minus a few hundred or thousand dollars.

You can take your car to multiple collision shops for a preliminary repair estimate. Continue Reading →

Can Autumn Leaves Damage Your Car?

car damage leaves, autumn leaves damage, fall leaves damageFall is here. For many tree species, this means the annual cycle of shedding their leaves in preparation for new growth. Leaves are light as a feather and may seem harmless. However, car damage from leaves is actually not uncommon.

How Do Leaves Damage Your Car?

The damage is mostly at the aesthetic level. Autumn leaves decompose wherever they land. As the natural decomposition process takes place, the leaves release sap, tannic acids, and other chemicals. If leaves remain on your vehicle for prolonged periods, they can degrade onto the surface and damage the auto paint. In some cases, it may also leave a fossil-like imprint on your car. While fall leaves obviously don’t cause dents, they can cause micro-abrasions and surface-level scratches.

Bothell and surrounding cities tend to have fairly humid fall weather. The moisture and fluctuation in warm and cool air expedites the deterioration process of the leaves and hastens damage to car surfaces.

Autumn leaves on the road can also indirectly damage your vehicle. Leaves obscure potholes, curbs, and dips in the road. Wet fall leaves can also create slippery surfaces and increase odds of a collision. Continue Reading →

What to Do After a Collision with an Animal

animal collisionWhile not too common, wildlife occasionally wanders into the urban areas of cities like Bellevue. Spotting the occasional deer or raccoon is a beautiful sight. However, a collisions with an animal is also not uncommon. What exactly do you do if this occurs?

Does My Insurance Cover It?

Most comprehensive automobile insurance does cover damage from collisions with a large animal. Collision coverage, despite its name, usually does not cover damages from hitting an animal. The average collision repair cost for hitting a deer, by the way, is around $3,200.

I Had a Collision With an Animal; What Do I Do?

Do not flee the scene. This constitutes a hit-and-run and may incur stiff penalties. First, pull over and activate your emergency lights. Make sure everyone is okay and call the police. We also highly recommend taking pictures of the damage. The documentation will be helpful when filing an insurance claim. Continue Reading →

The Importance of Car Body Plastic Repairs

car body plastic, auto plasticHere’s a fun fact for curious motorists: modern cars contain a large number of plastic parts. Parts, such as the interior bumper, door panels, and equipment housing, contain mainly plastic material. With this in mind, collision repair centers need to be well versed in car body plastic repairs.

Why so Much Plastic?

People unfairly demonize plastic as being a cheap and low-quality material. This is far from the truth. Plastic reduces a car’s weight and improves fuel efficiency. Plastic is also more resistant to corrosion. Once the car is headed for the junkyard, the plastic is also easier to recycle than the steel and aluminum. Continue Reading →

The Importance of Electronic Recalibration in Collision Repairs

electronic recalibrationIn modern vehicles, the computer controls safety technologies, such as lane departure warning and blind spot detection. These features save lives on the road. However, a collision—even a minor fender bender—can throw these systems out of balance. As part of collision repairs, a technician must also perform electronic recalibration.

Why Electronic Recalibration Is Necessary

Collision repair isn’t just about restoring the frame and crumple zone. Modern cars have multiple computers, sensors, and radar, all of which are ultra-sensitive. A collision can knock these installations out of alignment. This may result in an air bag’s failure to deploy or another safety feature’s failure to activate. Likewise, an alert on your dashboard may fail to light up. This places driver and passengers at serious risk. Even minor impacts causing only a small dent can result in decalibration. Continue Reading →

Dings Vs. Dents: What’s the Difference?

dings dentsIt’s inevitable if you’re a car owner: Incidents involving runaway shopping carts or swinging car doors can lead to noticeable blemishes. However, is the damage a dent or ding? People often use the terms interchangeably, though technically the terms “dings” and “dents” indicate different degrees of damage.

How Dings and Dents Differ

Motorists who bring their cars to our shop for dent repair freely switch between the terms. However, for industry staff, the differentiation matters. Let us explain the difference.

Ding: A ding is a relatively minor blemish where the damaged spot is no more than half an inch in diameter. The auto paint is also completely intact. Damage from runaway shopping carts usually falls into this category.

For most car owners, a ding is an eyesore, but does not require immediate attention. In other words, no need to cry over spilled milk. Most owners, though, still eventually decide to repair the ding. Continue Reading →

How to File a Hail Claim

hail claimThe Bellevue area isn’t exactly prone to hail, but it isn’t completely immune to it either. This past March, meteorologists reported a short bout of hail following a thunderstorm. Hail as big as golf balls can cause damage. The good news, though, is that your insurance may cover the damage. We’ll explain how to file a hail claim.

Does Your Insurance Cover Hail Damage?

Only your insurance provider can answer that. Most car owners are apprehensive about filing a hail claim out of fear their premiums will go up. However, most comprehensive coverage plans cover hail damage since the damage is considered an “act of God.” This basically means unavoidable damage due events beyond human control. In any case, confirm with your insurance agency instead of taking our word for it. Continue Reading →

What Does a “Totaled Car” Mean?

totaled car, total lossDid your car receive significant damage in a collision? Your insurance provider may declare your vehicle a “totaled car” or “total loss.” What exactly do these terms mean, and what are the parameters for determining that a car is totaled?

The Definition of a Totaled Car

Insurance companies consider a car a total loss if repair costs exceed 75% of the car’s Kelly Blue Book value. Needless to say, a totaled car is beyond what a paintless dent repair or auto paint restoration can fix.

After an auto accident, you will have to bring your vehicle to a collision center approved by your insurance provider. Doug’s Auto Collision Center works with most national and Bellevue-based auto insurance agencies. We can make the final determination if a car is a total loss. If not, we can restore the vehicle to pre-collision condition. If damaged beyond repair, your insurance will send you a check equal to the value of the car before collision.

If repairs are in order, we will coordinate with your insurance provider and arrange for a rental car. Continue Reading →

4 Myths About Auto Body Shops

body shop mythsIf you have been involved in an auto accident, you have a number of details to look after. You need to choose a body shop to perform the repairs and deal with the insurance company. The entire situation is stressful, and part of the stress is due to a number of myths about body shops. Listed below are some myths … as well as the truth.

Body Shop Myth No. 1

Car dealers do a better job of repairing cars after an accident than independent body shops.

Truth: This is not true. Many people think that only a dealership can order factory parts for their vehicle. At Doug’s Auto Collision Center, we work with factory parts regularly and avoid working with aftermarket parts. Continue Reading →