Photo App Estimates Good or Bad?

These pictures were taken by one of our estimators of rear end damage to this vehicle. Our estimate included replacement of the rear bumper cover and replacement of the broken tail light. The customer’s insurance company requested that they use their estimating app that requires them to upload photo’s of the damage to the insurer where a desk appraiser writes an estimate from what they can see in the photo’s and usually issues payment to the customer with the estimate. The customer did as requested and sent photo’s through the app. The insurance estimate came back with 3 hours to repair the bumper cover (this tear would require replacement) and nothing for the taillight (clearly broken). Now don’t panic over the shortage as when the car comes in for repairs the insurer will pay for any additional work or parts that need to be done to make it right.

Having said that we as a body shop have several concerns with photo app estimating.

1) They will only write for the damage that they can see in the photo’s. We photo document damage every day so we are reasonably adept at getting good photo’s and illustrating the damage however most people don’t have that experience. We also have a pretty good eye for potentially dangerous damage that can render the vehicle unsafe but it may not always be visible in photo’s or noticeable to the untrained eye.

2) While the insurer will pay additional for supplements once the vehicle is in the shop for repairs, they typically won’t pay any more if you don’t get it repaired so in many instances you may be short payed a considerable amount of money.

3) The estimate is a blueprint for the repair so if we get a lousy blueprint to order parts from it can cause delay’s to the repair process and add to the time you are without your car.

I don’t see photo app estimating going away any time soon in our society of convenience (and it can’t get more convenient than taking pictures in your driveway) so my advice is if you are going to use these services, have your body shop look at the vehicle first to make sure it is safe to drive, then ask them to help with your photo’s to make sure they can see all of the damage in the pictures. Once you get the estimate back schedule your repairs with the shop and make sure you give them a copy of the estimate to work from. Always share the estimate with the shop even if it is more than what the shop may have written. The only way for the shop to bill additional for damage that they may find during the repair is if they know exactly what the insurance company has already paid for.

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