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We had a doozy of a hail storm a couple weeks ago and my 2016 Forester took some hard shots. ~$7000 worth of hard shots according to my insurance carrier (Progressive). I instantly called a body shop I've worked with a few times over the last couple vehicles I've owned who talked me through the process of how it would work:

  1. bring car to progressive cat inspection site
  2. wait for estimate (which will be disgustingly low)
  3. send estimate to body shop and leave them with car for 4 to 6 weeks
  4. body shop will negotiate with Progressive to get funds for all work required without me paying for anything else beyond my deductible and rental car (past 21 days)

That all sounds great, but #4 leaves me a bit skeptical. Before I started asking too many questions of the body shop (I suspect, they have scripted responses to questions/concerns about that topic... i suspect the same of Progressive), I wanted to get the lo-down on how all that works from someone in the know but that doesn't have any involvement in the process.

I don't doubt that the estimate (funds authorized) Progressive provided is WAY low as I'm well aware that they don't make money by giving money out freely. So is it a case where the body shop actually will/can get the additional required funds from Progressive to do the work that needs to be done and to do it right? OR...

  • do I need to be on the lookout for corners being cut (more so than usual)?

or

  • might the body shop try getting creative by telling me something like Item X is not really necessary but Item Y is very necessary but Progressive hasn't allocated enough to cover it so we're just going to take the money from Item X, skip doing it all together and add that money to Item Y?

or...

  • do I need to be prepared for them to say at some point "Progressive isn't paying enough. if you want this done right, you have to pay another $3k out of pocket"?

And I'm not talking about being aware of a place that is just straight up dishonest. This shop has been in town getting a lot of positive reviews for over a decade. I'm talking about the general way that things go in these atypical situations.

It's going to be bad enough already being without my car for that long and it was lucky that i called that day to get an appointment on the books with the body shop because other people in town that I've talked to who waited a couple days to start calling around for appointments are looking at September before the shop can take them. Because of that I don't have the luxury of getting multiple quotes and/or potentially getting under the skin of the body shop by asking a bunch of questions that more or less implies that they might be operating in a less than 100% ethical manner.

With all that said, if anyone with experience/knowledge/wisdom could let me know what I'm likely to encounter (in a general sense) and suggest what I might want to be watching out for, I'd be most appreciative. Thanks!!

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  • Can you leave the car in direct sunlight for a period of time (like all day)? Depending on the amount of damage, heat from the direct sunlight will cause most, if not all, of the dings to pop back out. Metal, once stamped in the manufacturing process, has a memory. It wants to go back to the way it was. When heated up enough, they tend to want to go back to the way they were. If this gets even some of the dents out, it'll save you money. Paintless dent repair (PDR) is probably $100/dent, so ... Commented Jul 10, 2023 at 21:24
  • I had accident damage on a vehicle which was essential for my business and the body shop manager asked indirectly for a "sweetener" so that it could be fixed in a week, instead of three weeks. Perhaps there is a common scam in that world. At another body shop I subsequently used twice there was none of that. The estimate would arrive in 24 hours. Commented Jul 10, 2023 at 21:30
  • Remember that the motor trade is notorious for opportunistic fleecing of the motorist, being the modern "horse traders", as decribed in Are you a horse trader? with In a recent conversation Ed told me the problem with the car business is that it was created by horse traders. As a student of history I immediately appreciated what that meant. The horse trade was not the most scrupulous endeavor. Many have honed their profit-maximising techniques to almost perfection. Commented Jul 10, 2023 at 21:50
  • ...when I took a car back to the shop for fitting a faulty exhaust, which sounded as though it had a leak, on the ramp the fitter slapped the silencer (aka muffler) and said "It's the baffles - they just need a bit of time to stand up!" I replied "If we sing God Save The King do you think that will help?" and pointed to a streak of soot evidently deposited by a gap in a crimped join. Which did the trick and they fitted another exhaust system. Commented Jul 10, 2023 at 21:59
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    Insurance companies usually have repair places they deal with.. If you take it to one of their preferred places, they do work together (insurance and body shop) to ensure the car is fixed at the price negotiated between the two, with no middle-man (ie: you) having to worry about anything. Time may not be on your side with the rental car. The cost of the repair should not be at odds with your pocket book, though. Commented Jul 11, 2023 at 9:55

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