Time is valuable. And we know that time is an especially important variable when it comes to your car. For most people, driving is not an option. You need your vehicle in order to get to work, make it to appointments, and go about your normal activities.
One of the biggest concerns following an accident is the time needed for auto body and mechanical repair work. Customers are always asking us, ‘how long will it take to get my vehicle fixed?’ Because collision repair is complex, there may not be a clear answer to your question. If the insurance company gives you a time frame of 2-3 days for work, frankly, that’s unrealistic.
It’s better to get advice from the ones doing the work. So, we’ve put together a guide to help car owners estimate the amount of time a vehicle will likely need to stay at the collision repair shop.
7 Factors Affecting the Time Needed for Collision Repairs
These are the seven biggest variables that impact how long it takes the shop to fix your car.
1. Extent of Damage
The first factor that will change the amount of time needed for auto body and mechanical repair work is the extent of the damage. For example, if the vehicle needs simple paintless dent repair, the turn-around time may one day. However, if the car is severely dented, or has multiple dents, and requires repainting, the shop will need more time to complete the work.
2. Repair Claims Process
To give you a rough estimate, it may take 6 – 14 days before work can even begin on fixing your vehicle when working with insurance companies. This includes:
- 2-3 days to inspect the damage, estimate and submit a claim for the repair work,
- 4 days for the insurance company to review the claim, request additional information, and complete any extra inspections,
- Up to 7 days for the insurance company to process and send approval for the repair claim.
3. Hidden Surprises
When a car owner requests an estimate, technicians will also give an idea of the number of days needed to fix it. However, this is simply a prediction. Repair techs can only estimate the extent of the damage from the surface. Until they disassemble the body, they can’t see behind the large panels of the vehicle. This means that the estimate of work – and time – required may change once the repair work is underway.
After an accident, nobody can really determine how long it will take to fix a car until all panels have been removed and it has been fully inspected.
4. Insurance Supplements
In our experience, repair work calls for a supplement in 85-95% of cases. This can really hold up the process. Once the shop determines extra parts or labor is needed and submits a supplement request, it then must wait until the insurance company gives the ‘OK’ before continuing. Sometimes this process requires an insurance adjuster to come and inspect the car before approving the request. Receiving approval for supplements from the car insurance company may take two days, or up to a week.
While waiting for a response, that vehicle will lose priority among the cars waiting for repairs at the shop and only gets put back in line once the supplement is approved. At our shop, we make a point to contact customers whenever a request is sent to the estimator and let them know that the vehicle is on hold until we hear back. If parts are needed, they will be ordered after the insurance adjuster agrees to the supplement.
5. Ordering Parts
This is an important variable when estimating repair time and, unfortunately, it can be the source of some frustrating delays. Here’s why:
- Body shops don’t keep auto parts in stock. Every part needs to be custom ordered for that particular car make and model, and the repairs needed.
- The shop will need to wait until the insurance company has approved the original repair claim and any additional supplemental requests before ordering the parts.
- Sometimes there are delays in getting claims and supplements approved.
- It generally takes a few days for the parts to arrive, but there can also be shipping delays.
- Parts ordered for foreign, rather than domestic, vehicles may take longer to arrive.
- Suppliers occasionally make mistakes and send the wrong part.
- Many insurance policies require the use of re-conditioned aftermarket parts, but sometimes the part supplied doesn’t fit or meet our quality standard. The shop will be required to order and try another aftermarket part. Only if the second component supplied doesn’t work can the shop order the correct OEM part.
6. Scheduling Repair Work
Collision repair shops are busy places. If a car is towed in or is an unscheduled drop-off, the staff will need to start by assessing the damage and writing up an estimate. Then, the estimated work can be entered into their system and scheduled. Naturally, the shop has multiple customers at any given moment and work must be prioritized according to the order in which it was received.
If supplements are submitted, the car will lose priority until the insurance approves the request. At that point, the work can go back on the schedule.
7. Skills of the Collision Repair Staff
Finally, the technicians at your preferred collision repair staff can make a big difference in how long you wait for the car to be fixed. Experience and expertise help techs to estimate the work required with more accuracy, make quality repairs, and get it done faster.
Learn more about Why Car Repairs Take Time.
Your Rights as the Car Owner
Insurance is an investment. And your policy owes you a vehicle that is as close as possible to pre-damage condition. That’s why, at Alexander’s, we make sure the work is done right from the beginning. Our staff aims to maintain extremely high standards for every repair.
Because the insurance company’s priority is to decrease costs, the repair process can get held up on supplements or insisting on re-conditioned aftermarket parts. Rest assured that our staff ensures that each part meets our quality standards before installation.
At any point, you can say, “I don’t care what the insurance company is going to pay, I just want it done right.” This means that there will be additional charges at the owners cost to correct things that the insurance is unwilling to repair as part of the claim or using OEM parts.
Get more expert information on How Insurance Companies Affect the Role of Auto Body Repair.
What Car Owners Can Do to Speed Up the Process
- Contact your preferred collision repair shop before bringing the car in so that the shop can start to prioritize the work.
- Request an estimate as soon as possible.
- Call your insurance company to check on the progress of claims and supplements. They tend to listen to customers and respond to requests more efficiently.
We Aim to Get You Back on the Road ASAP – Alexander Body & Fender
Our main goals are always to perform the highest quality repairs and return vehicles to their owners in an efficient manner. By taking only the time necessary to do the repair work properly the first time, we aim to make our customers’ lives easier. Find out more about our Gold Standard and the car repair process at Alexander’s.