Estimator & Auto Body Estimate FAQ
|Customer Frequently Asked Questions|
|1.||What is the purpose of the Instant Estimator?|
|2.||How does the estimator process work?|
|3.||What is the difference between a cosmetic and collision repair?|
|4.||What are the different levels of damage?|
|5.||How do I use the Damage Level Grid?|
|6.||What if I have multiple damages on a panel?|
|7.||What if I have some damaged areas that are collision and some that are cosmetic?|
|8.||How do I use the Instant Estimator?|
|9.||What if I do not have a digital camera?|
|10.||How accurate is my estimate?|
|11.||Are there any techniques I should understand regarding cosmetic repair?|
|12.||How do I search for a repair shop?|
What is the purpose of the Instant Estimator?
This tool enables the customer to obtain a quick auto repair estimate from the convenience of their computer. It will help customers pre-determine if their damage(s) will meet their auto insurance deductible. It also saves the customer from the risk of possibly harming their driving record and causing possible increased premiums.
How does the Instant Estimator process work?
First, you will need to determine whether your needed repair(s) are cosmetic or collision. Second, you will need to assess your damaged area(s) to determine the level or size of the damage. We have provided a Damage Level Grid< to assist you with this. Third, you will enter your information into the Estimator to obtain your estimate.
What is the difference between a cosmetic and collision repair?
A cosmetic repair has superficial damage such as a scuff or a scrape, small dents or dings, key scratches, minor bumper repair or minor body damage.
A collision repair has heavy body or frame damage, severely damaged broken or missing parts or a single panel repair exceeding over 3 hours labor.
What are the different levels of damage?
Our patented level process evolved from current industry standards, reasearch and actual Field Adjuster input and feedback.
Level 1 is any damage configuration that equals 36 square inches and takes one hour to repair. For example, since each repair is unique in shape a Level 1 could be an area that measures:
Level 2 is any damage configuration between 37 and 72 square inches, taking 2 hours to repair.
Level 3 is any damage configuration between 73 and 108 square inches, taking 3 hours to repair.
Level 4 is any damage larger than 109 square inches. This is considered to be collision damage because it takes over 3 hours to repair and it is an area large enough to have hidden damage below the surface. In addition, it may require parts to be purchased that will need to be included in the estimate. Collision estimates can be obtained by submitting online photos to Instant Estimator.
How do I use the Damage Level Grid?
This tool is really quite simple to use and you may be able to eliminate this step if you already know this information form memory.
Level 1 = damaged area equaling 36 square inches.
Level 2 = damaged area between 37 and 72 square inches.
Level 3 = damaged area between 73 and 108 square inches.
Level 4 = damage larger than 109 square inches. This is considered to be collision damage because it takes over 3 hours to repair and it is an area large enough to have unforeseen damage below the surface. In addition, it may require parts to be purchased which will need to be included in the estimate. Collision estimates can be obtained by submitting online pictures to Instant Estimator.
What if I have multiple damages on a panel?
If you have multiple damages on a panel you will need to combine the damages together to determine the level for that panel. For example, if you have two damaged areas on the same panel and both have Level 1 damage, that panel would be considered a Level 2. In some cases multiple damages will equal a Level 4 and will be considered to be collision damage.
What if I have some damaged areas that are collision and some that are cosmetic?
Your damage should be considered a collision repair and you should go through the collision damage process to obtain your estimate.
How do I use the Instant Estimator?
For a Cosmetic Repair
Assess the size of your damage and enter basic location and vehicle information into Instant Estimator. Your personal information is strictly confidential. Please see our terms and conditions for more information.
Next you will enter your damage information by clicking on the body panel needing to be repaired on the left side of the page. Then choose the level of damage for that repair by clicking on one of the four pictures describing the level of damage under the main photo. You can enter as many damaged areas as you need but you must combine multiple damages when they are on the same panel.
A preview of your estimate will be visible at the bottom right hand side of the page. When you are finished entering your damage(s), a detailed estimate will be displayed for you to print and a copy will be automatically forwarded to your email.
For a Collision Repair
To obtain this type of online estimate you will need to upload photos of your damage into the Instant Estimator.
Ideally, you will need to take pictures of 5 different views of your vehicle:
Tips: Park your car in a well lit area. Try to have the light coming from behind you while snapping the picture. Pictures need to be as clear as possible to obtain the most accurate estimate. Feel free to add more pictures if necessary. Remember, your pictures are worth a thousand words.
We provide a downloadable Photo Guide to assist in the taking of photographs.
After being directed to a "collision damage" estimate you will need to be prepared to enter the following information:
Next you will need to upload photos of your damage into the estimator. Click the first browse button and find the file on your computer storing your pictures. Double click on the picture to upload. Repeat this process until all of your pictures have been uploaded. Enter any comments you would like to make regarding your damage.
Click the "Finished" button and you will receive your confirmation number. A detailed confirmation will also be emailed to you.
Your confidential request for an estimate will be routed to auto repair shops within your service area. Your name and phone number will not be disclosed. The repair shops will review the specifics of your damage and will submit their professional estimates to Instant Estimator within 24 hours. InstantEstimator.com will review and forward a maximum of three professional estimates from our participating repair shops for you to compare and research.
Note: Upon seeing your car, our preferred auto repair shops will review your damage again to make sure there aren't any hidden damages causing the estimate to change. They may also recommend some other options that you may need to consider.
What if I don't have a digital camera?
You can request for us to find a collision repair shop for you and we will send you a list of our participating auto repair shops in your area.
How accurate is my estimate?
Instant Estimator is exceedingly accurate. Our database is built utilizing on local labor and material rates, which are the same means used for calculating estimates at repair shops. There may be additional charges, but our participating shops will inform you of these, when necessary.
Labor rates and material costs do vary between different counties and states. Instant Estimator calculates each and every possible factor to ensure a realistic adn fair evaluation.
Our preferred auto repair shops have agreed to provide repair service within 10% of our cosmetic evaluation. However, upon seeing your car, they will assess your damages and inform you of any changes to your preliminary estimate. They may also recommend some other options that you may not have considered.
Are there any techniques I should understand regarding cosmetic repair?
Yes, if a repair is within 18 inches of the next panel, it is sometimes necessary to paint or blend the next panel. The technique of "blending" is common in today's metallic paints. It may be necessary on other colors as well because of the different formulas for the same color, depending on the manufacturer.
How do I search for a repair shop?
1. After you receive your cosmetic repair estimate you will have an opportunity to receive our Auto Repair Shop Directory by email where you will be able to research repair shops within your local area.
2. Submit your collision repair pictures to us and we will request estimates from our participating repair shops and match you up with 3 pre-screened auto repair shops.
If you have additional questions that are not listed here you may find answers within other pages of Instant Estimator or you may contact us using our on-line form, we will respond promptly.