July 16, 2010

How Competitive Estimates Can Affect Auto Insurance Claims

Nobody wants to be in the position of making an auto insurance claim, as it will raise your auto insurance quotes for years to come. Nevertheless, the point of car insurance is to cover costs that you couldn't handle in an accident, and occasionally most drivers will end up making a claim. In some cases, a claim might get fairly complex.

Your car insurance company may require that you locate several estimates for damages submitted on your auto insurance claim–this is called a request for "competitive estimates," and it can greatly affect the resolution of the claim and possibly your future auto insurance quotes. Competitive estimates are required in order to find a reasonable payout on a claim, and to prevent insurance customers from taking advantage of their policies by collaborating with mechanics to inflate claims.

Your car insurance provider may have several stipulations to their request for competitive estimates. Generally, they'll want three or so estimates from around your geographical location, and they may even recommend a few repair shops for estimates, depending on the law in your state. Some states prevent these sorts of recommendations and claim that they're unfair, as insurance companies can work out special deals with certain mechanics to get lower costs. More often than not, an insurance provider simply recommends a certain mechanic because of that mechanic's low overall rates. Ultimately, it's up to you to find a few trustworthy mechanics, who must then submit itemized quotes. You will have to fax or send these in to your car insurance provider to move your claim forward.

An insurance company may use the average of competitive estimates in resolving your auto insurance claim, or they may insist on the least expensive estimate. Again, this will depend on your state's car insurance laws. You should expect a fast resolution of your claim once competitive estimates have been submitted. In general, your car insurance company should pay out within a few weeks. Your state insurance commission will have guidelines for payment on an auto insurance claim, and it's illegal for your car insurance provider to intentionally waste time in order to avoid paying out on a certain claim.

If your insurer asks for competitive estimates on a claim, it's in your best interest to provide them as quickly as possible. However, you should take the time to evaluate each mechanic, and only choose trustworthy mechanics that have fully assessed the damage to the vehicle. You need a fully repaired and functional vehicle to keep driving safely–some timely research will help you resolve your claim and get you back on the road.