• Can I take my car to any shop I choose?
Yes. It's your car—it's your choice. Under state law it is illegal to "steer" you to a particular shop. Sometimes adjusters will tell you that you'll get better service or some other advantage when you use a particular shop. Often these insurance companies are trying to get you to use a shop where they receive a discount. You are not receiving a discount on your deductible, why should they get a discount? Always take your vehicle to a shop you trust.
• My insurance company told me to take my car to another shop. Am I required to take it there or can I use the shop of my choice?
You have the right to use the shop of your choice. However, if your insurance company instructs you to obtain an estimate from a particular shop, get a written estimate there and then bring it to the shop you want to make the repairs.
• If I bring my car to you, can you save me some or all of my deductible?
No. Your insurance policy says that you are responsible for paying the first portion of a repair bill in form of a deductible. If the cost of repairs comes in less than the estimate, you are still responsible for the amount of the deductible. Any savings legitimately belongs to the insurance carrier. Often the amount of the deductible is as much or more than the profit we make on a job. If we made no profit, we would not remain in business for long. Beware of any shop that claims to save your deductible. How are they reducing the costs? Using cheaper paint? Using inferior parts? They're probably cutting corners somewhere. Remember, you usually get what you pay for. Most reputable collision shops will not reduce your deductible.
• I already have an insurance estimate. Can you repair my car for less and save me money?
This is really the same question as the one above. There are at least two problems with this approach. Let's assume you have a front-end collision and the bumper, fenders, and hood are damaged. To save you money you agree to accept a recycled hood and fenders. Then when our technician begins the work and opens the hood, he discovers that in addition to the visible damage, the radiator and radiator support are damaged. Are you prepared to pay for the additional damage? If instead we work directly from the insurance adjuster's estimate, we can present the cost to repair the additional damage to the insurance company in the form of a supplement. Upon their approval (which may require an additional inspection by the adjuster or submitting photos), we can make the additional repairs and the insurance company will pay for them.
• My collision damage is not covered by insurance. What can you do help lower the estimate?
Come by our shop and we can discuss some options with you. Sometimes a recycled or reconditioned part may be in order. What may be appropriate in your case will depend on the extent of damage, the age of the vehicle, and what makes sense for you. We will work with you to create a repair plan that meets your needs.
• Do I need three estimates?
In most cases, insurance companies no longer require multiple estimates. They realize that duplicate efforts cost more money in the long run. So bring your car to our shop. We will write an estimate and submit it to the insurance company. Once they approve the esimate (which usually requires an adjuster to look at the damage), we can begin work on your vehicle. If we have a preferred relationship with the insurance company, we can begin work on your car right away without waiting on approval from an adjuster.
• When should I bring my car in?
If you are using insurance that includes rental car re-imbursement, you should bring the car in early in the week (preferably Monday). Insurance companies try to avoid paying for weekend car rentals. If your car cannot be driven safely, then bring it in or have it towed in immediately. If you will not be getting a rental car or you are paying for it yourself, then you may bring your car in any time during normal business hours.
• I have two estimates and they are several hundred dollars apart. Why?
There are a number of reasons estimates may differ. Is everything included on both estimates? Do both specify new OEM parts or does one use less expensive after-market or recycled parts? Bring your estimate to Longhorn Collision Center and we will help you decipher the differences. After reviewing an estimate to make sure that nothing has been omitted, we will honor any legitimate estimate from another Austin area shop that is
less than 30 days old. (Note: Part prices are subject to change without notice from the manufacturer. If the price of a part differs from that in the estimate when we order a part, we will charge you the new price. We will present you with a copy of the parts invoice for verification, if requested.)
• I have had two accidents. Is is possible to get the damage from both accidents repaired at the same time and same money?
That depends. If you are paying for the repairs yourself, there may be some savings. For example, there are some charges you would pay only once if we do all the work at one time. Some examples include the cost to cover your car with plastic to prevent overspray and a the charge for hazardous waste removal (properly disposing of paint and solvent residue). The time for mixing paint may be reduced when both repairs are painted at the work at the same time. However, if the repair is being paid by insurance, the insurance companies require that each accident be treated separately. That means that you would have to pay the deductible for each incident. Any savings that occurs would be passed on the insurance company.
• I was in an accident and the other driver was at fault. The other driver says he (or she) does not want to use insurance. He or she says to get three estimates and he or she will pay the lowest estimate. What should I do?
First of all, you do not need to waste your time going from shop to shop to get three estimates. The other driver is responsible for getting your car back like it was before the accident. You have the right to take your car to the shop of your choice, not to some fly-by-night operation that gives you the lowest bid. The other driver is also responsible for providing you with alternate transportation while your car is being worked on. Because the initial estimate is always based on visible damage, additional damage may be discovered after work has begun. The other driver will be responsible for these repairs as well, but will not be expecting the cost to go up. For these reasons, it is best if you can use the other person's insurance. If the other driver still insists on not using his or her insurance, then get them to agree to pay you up front and then you pay the shop. Make sure they are aware that additional charges may occur. If they want to pay the shop directly, we require a money order, cashier's check, or credit card for the amount of the estimate before we begin work. This is for your protection—if the other driver pays with a personal check that bounces, you are still responsible for the payment.
• What are after-market parts?
OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts are those manufactured for or by the company that originally made your vehicle. Other companies manufacture similar parts to fit your vehicle and they are called after-market parts. These parts are usually somewhat lower in cost than OEM parts. Often it is difficult to see any difference between after-market and OEM parts. However, in some cases there can be problems with fit and durability with after-market parts. If you want to save money, we can help guide you as to when to use after-market and when to avoid them.
• What are recycled parts?
Recycled parts (also called used parts or salvage parts) are those that come from previously wrecked automobiles. For example, if a vehicle has a front-end collision and is totaled by the insurance company, the salvage companies can buy it at auction. The doors, deck lid, and rear bumper covers will in most cases still be in good condition. If you choose to save money by using a recycled part, we carefully inspect them when they arrive at our shop to insure there is no damage that would diminish their value when used in your vehicle. Sometimes insurance companies will specify recycled parts. While some people feel this is not right, the insurance company's responsiblility is to get your vehicle back to the condition it was before the accident. If you have a 4-year old car, it makes sense for them to replace it with a part that came off of a 4-year old car.
• What are remanufactured parts?
Some companies take certain used parts (for example, bumper covers or wheels), make any necessary repairs, strip off the paint, and prime the parts. They then sell these parts back to body shops as remanufactured or reconditioned parts. This option makes good sense when the cost to repair minor damage will be greater than the cost of the remanufactured part.
• Another body shop says they are the preferred shop for my insurance company. Shouldn't I take it there?
Only if you trust them to repair your vehicle correctly. A "preferred" shop does not always mean a first-rate shop. It could mean that the insurance company has worked out a discount for themselves in exchange for sending their customers to that shop. Longhorn Collision Center has preferred status with several insurance companies. These relationships are referred to in the industry as DRPs—direct repair programs. For our DRPs we were selected based on meeting certain standards, not on providing discounts. The DRPs do provide you the customer with certain benefits, such as being able to begin work on your car without waiting for an adjuster to inspect it. (These benefits vary with the insurance carrier.) Due to restrictions by the insurance companies, we are not allowed to publicize the names of these companies. However, if you call or come by, you may ask us if we are on your insurance company's program.
• How do I know that Longhorn Collision will do a good job on repairing my car?
First of all, we offer a lifetime warranty on the work we do. While it's rare to have something go wrong, it sometimes happens. So for as long as you own your car, if anything goes wrong with a repair that we make, just bring it back and we will make it right. (Of course, this does not include further damage due to an accident.) Second, Longhorn Collision Center has been highly rated by consumers and industry organizations alike. One major insurance company has consistently rated Longhorn as one of the top shops in Austin for several years, based on timely repairs, accuracy of estimates, and quality of service. A major automobile leasing company recently ranked Longhorn as No. 5 in the nation and No. 1 in the southwest region based on several performance criteria. They also ranked Longhorn No. 1 in the nation in accuracy of estimates. And if you look at online rating services such as City Search, you will see we have good reports from consumers. That is not an easy accomplishment as most consumers are quick to complain when something goes wrong, but rarely give praise when everything goes well.