A Perfectly Legal Body Shop Insurance HackLet’s preface this by saying that this hack doesn’t work for everyone; it only applies to certain types of collision repair and certain auto insurance scenarios. But if it fits your situation, you can save some time and money—maybe even keep your driving history clean. The insurance company may also save money on the deal—a win-win. In this article, we’ll show you how the “deductible hack” can save you hundreds of dollars on certain types of collision repair.
How it WorksYour natural instinct when the dust has settled after an auto accident is to call the insurance agent. That’s what they’re there for, after all, and insurance payouts can be financial lifesavers when you have major vehicle damage. But with some types of damage, you may actually come out ahead by paying for repairs out of pocket. If your repair estimate is $800, but your insurance deductible is $1,000 (the amount your policy makes you pay out of pocket before the insurance company will pay the rest), it’s pretty simple math. It makes no sense to file a claim because you’ll have to pay the full $800 either way. By filing a claim, you may also risk driving up your monthly premium payment, which could cost you more money every month for the next three years.
But what if your repair quote is, say, $1,300 with the same $1,000 deductible? If you file a claim, you’ll pay $1,000 out of pocket, and the insurance company will pay $300. Saving $300 is better than nothing, but you may be able to do better because this is the type of scenario in which the hack may work. It’s based on the fact that different types of body shops can charge very different amounts of money for the same types of work. Most of the repair estimates insurance companies see are from full-service body shops—the ones that commonly work on big, gnarly repair jobs. Many of these shops have ongoing relationships with insurers which guarantee specific payouts for specific types of damage. On the other hand, minor collision repair shops (like APR) don’t do the big jobs, and they don’t have cost agreements with insurance companies. These shops have much more leeway on pricing. At APR, we routinely beat full-service shop estimates by hundreds of dollars. So let’s go back to our hypothetical $1,300 repair estimate. If you have no frame or engine part damage—it’s just the body of the vehicle—APR may be able to do the work for far less than $1,300. We routinely do repairs previously quoted in that range for $800 – $1,000. You save money, the insurance company saves money, and nobody has to wade through red tape to get the job done. If your deductible is higher than your estimate, we may also be able to save you some significant cash when you’re paying the full amount out of pocket.