The primary purpose of this website is to introduce you to Douglas Collision Center and earn your business. We also hope to take some of the uncertainty and stress out of the repair process by educating you. By educating the customer we hope to make you more comfortable and earn your trust. We understand that for most people, their vehicle is extremely important to them and usually the second largest purchase they will make.
If you haven’t been involved in an accident before; dealing with repair shops, insurance companies and rental car agencies can be very overwhelming. There are processes which may be confusing and terminology which needs to be explained. We want you to know that we understand, and will do our best to make this experience as smooth and as pleasurable as possible.
When shopping for insurance, your deciding factor should not always be. Don’t believe everything you’ve seen in the commercials. The cheapest quote is not always the insurance that is right for your needs. Big differences in price usually mean big differences in coverage and/or service; which may not become visible until you file a claim and need it the most.
Ask questions. Ask your family and peers which insurance company they have. Ask if they have filed a claim. Ask them to rate the experience. Ask if they would purchase insurance with the same company again. When you receive your quotes, make sure you are comparing the same coverage and options. Below are some basic points you should know and understand about any insurance coverage you are considering.
The actual coverage you are quoted. Liability, collision, comprehensive, uninsured motorist, stacked, un-stacked, etc. You need to know what these terms mean and ask the insurance company to explain them.
The policy limits and what they mean. Some leased and financed vehicles have minimum requirements on coverage. In Florida, the minimum legal requirement does not give you much protection. If an accident reaches your policy maximum, you could be sued for additional monies.
If the policy includes comprehensive and collision coverage (if desired or needed). Most financed or leased vehicles require collision and comprehensive coverage.
If you have collision and comprehensive coverage, what the deductible is for each. Sometimes they are different.
If the policy includes rental vehicle coverage. What are the limits? Will this policy transfer to the rental vehicle while yours is being repaired? If not, you may have to purchase additional insurance from the rental company to cover the rental vehicle while your vehicle is being repaired; which can cost from $10.00 per day and up.
Which drivers are included in the coverage. Very important if you have other licensed drivers living in your household.
What options are covered? Some insurance companies will not insure aftermarket sound systems, wheels, body kits, running boards, etc. without specific additional coverage. Some only cover these items up to a limited amount. If you have or are planning to purchase these items, you need to know if they are covered and what the limits are.
How to file a claim. Is there an 800 number, a website, a local agent, 24/7 assistance?
What guidelines are used when repairing your vehicle? Do they use aftermarket parts? Require you to get 3 estimates? Charge betterment and depreciation? Have local offices with experienced claims adjusters and appraisers?
Do they have local direct repair partners? If so, do the guarantee the work and for how long?
By asking these questions, you can make an informed decision and be confident that you have the coverage you need, when you need it.
INSURANCE TERMINOLOGY & DEFINITIONS
Coverage for damage beyond the vehicle owner’s control. Usually when vehicle is not moving, such as vandalism, hail damage, fire, theft, water, falling tree limbs, etc. Commonly combined with collision coverage and required or financed or leased vehicles.
Coverage for damage incurred to your vehicle. Such as collisions with moving or stationary objects while moving regardless of fault. Usually required on financed or leased vehicles.
Coverage for medical expenses when you are involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist after your PIP coverage is exhausted. Does not cover vehicles or property damage.
PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION or PIP
Coverage for medical expenses or lost wages only. It is primary to any other insurance coverage such as coverage from the at fault driver or your personal health insurance. PIP is mandatory in the state of Florida.
Coverage for property damage to the OTHER PARTIES property or vehicle. The mandatory minimum requirement in the stat of Florida is $10,000. This can be exhausted quickly since the average price of a new vehicle is more than $15,000.00 or if multiple vehicles are involved.
LIABILITY (as in accepting liability)
When an insurance company accepts liability, the are accepting responsibility for the damages. This can sometimes be a percentage, as in 50% liability. In this case, the insurance company will pay for 50% of the damages, and you are responsible for the remainder.
When used in the repair industry, means when one insurance company collects the damages from another insurance company.
You are involved in an accident. While the insurance companies investigate fault, you may choose to go ahead with your repairs under your insurance policy. If the other insurance company accepts liability, your company would collect from the at fault insurance company. If your repairs are completed before the other company has accepted liability, you may be required to pay your deductible. It is usually refunded after your insurance company collects from the at fault insurance company. Or, your insurance company may waive it.
You are involved in an accident. You have insurance company “a” which does not use any aftermarket parts. The at fault party has insurance company “b” which uses aftermarket parts heavily. You may choose to have the repairs completed under your policy per your insurance company guidelines to minimize aftermarket parts usage on your vehicle. Your insurance company will collect the damage amount from the at fault insurance company. In this case, the deductible may or may not be waived or reimbursed. Your insurance company can answer any questions you may have in this scenario.
DEDUCTIBLE – The portion of the repairs that the customer is responsible for. Typically $250, $500, or $1000. The amount is selected by the customer when the insurance policy is purchased. Higher deductibles are often chosen in exchange for lower premiums. The insurance company will issue repair payments less any deductible paid to the repair facility by the customer when the repaired vehicle is picked up.
YOUR VEHICLE = YOUR CHOICE
Your insurance company may present you with a list of repair facilities, however you are under no obligation to choose one from their list. Legally, they cannot require you to use a particular repair facility, or dissuade you from using the repair facility you choose.
Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations; check the Better Business Bureau website. You should look for a facility with a long history of satisfied customers. A facility with a clean, organized facility and a friendly, knowledgeable staff is always a plus. You should feel comfortable leaving your vehicle in their care. Some shops may offer to discount your deductible to get you to leave the vehicle, but rest assured they are not doing work for free. Somehow, somewhere, a shortcut is being taken to save costs.
You should insist on the best repair possible for your vehicle. You should insist on Douglas Collision Center.
REPAIRS TERMINOLOGY & DEFINITIONS
OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) – Parts that are manufactured and sold by the maker of your vehicle. These parts are covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. Most OEM warranties are for 12 months or 12 thousand miles whichever occurs first.
LKQ (Like Kind and Quality) or Recycled – This is also known as a recycled part. These parts are taken from the undamaged portion of a vehicle that has been deemed a total loss. These parts are warranted by the LKQ vendor and usually the Insurance company will warranty them as well. These parts are useful as cost saving measures; and sometimes make for a better repair. As an example, an LKQ door assembly will come with glass, window mechanism, door handle, etc; or an LKQ front end assembly will come with sheet metal, headlights, bumper, turn signals, etc.
A/M (Aftermarket) or QRP (Quality Replacement Parts) Parts – that are manufactured by a company other than the maker of your vehicle. These parts are warranted by the manufacturer of the part. As an example, when you have an oil change or have shocks put on your vehicle, you probably don’t buy them from the dealer. The oil filter is a Fram and the shock may be a Monroe. They are made for your vehicle and perform fine. These types of parts are usually much more expensive than OEM parts. These parts are useful when the original parts are no longer available or the price of original parts makes the repair cost prohibitive. These are especially useful for older vehicles. Some insurance companies allow you to request OEM only. Check with your insurer for details.
TOTAL LOSS – This term is used to describe a vehicle that is not economically feasible to repair. Any vehicle can be repaired with enough time and money; but if the repairs will come close to or exceed the fair market value of the vehicle, it is usually referred to as a total loss. Each insurance company calculates this based upon their own formulas. Your insurance company can explain how they make this determination.
FAIR MARKET VALUE – This term refers to the amount a vehicle similarly equipped and in the same condition would typically sell for on the open market. Many factors are taken into account to reach this value; such as geographic location, equipment packages, mileage, general condition of the vehicle before the loss, engine size, recent sales of similar vehicles, etc. This is determined exclusively by the insurance company and not the repair facility. Each insurance company has different formulas to reach a fair market value. Your insurance company can explain how they calculate fair market value.
DEDUCTIBLE – The portion of the repairs that the customer is responsible for. Usually $250, $500, or $1000. The amount is selected by the customer when the insurance policy is purchased. Higher deductibles are often chosen in exchange for lower premiums. The insurance company will issue repair payments minus any deductible. The deductible is paid to the repair facility by the customer when the repaired vehicle is picked up.
APPEARANCE ALLOWANCE – An appearance allowance is an amount subtracted from the deductible in exchange for concessions from the vehicle owner. For example; the owner may agree to accept a minor scratch on the wheel or a door trim panel in exchange for a $50.00 appearance allowance. If the owner had a $500 deductible, they would only owe $450.00 Appearance allowances are only offered on strictly cosmetic issues. The amount of the appearance allowance is dependent on the value of the affected part. Not all insurance companies off this option.
BETTERMENT (sometimes called depreciation) – This refers to a repair which results in increased value. For example, a shock absorber has a 100,000 mile life expectancy. If a shock has to be replaced due to an accident, and your vehicle has 50,000 miles on it, you have used ½ of the shock absorber’s life span. The insurance company will pay for 50% of the part and labor. You are responsible for the balance of the part price. Usually this is only applied to tires, shocks, struts, batteries, wheel bearings, and the like. However, in some situations this can also be applied to refinishing; such as if your paint was already faded or peeling on the damaged part before the accident. The decision on if and how much betterment to charge is solely up to the insurance company.
RENTAL REIMBURSEMENT – A type of rental vehicle coverage in which the rental bill is reimbursed to you after the repairs are complete and the bill is submitted to the insurance company. Your insurance company can tell you if you have rental vehicle coverage on your policy and if it is direct billed or reimbursed.
DIRECTION OF PAYMENT – A form which authorizes the insurance company to pay the repair shop directly for the repairs to your vehicle. This will usually include a limited power of attorney which authorizes the repair facility to deposit any insurance check for your repair and apply the amount to your repair bill.
AUTORIZATION – A form which authorizes the repair facility to perform repairs on your vehicle. This will also include permission to drive the vehicle for testing purposes. This form MUST be signed before repairs can begin.
SUPPLEMENT – This term is used to refer to additional parts and/or labor required to complete repairs to your vehicle discovered after the original estimate. Usually this occurs when your vehicle is disassembled and hidden damage is found. It can also refer to anything that deviates from the original estimate such as parts price differences. This is a common occurrence in the collision repair industry as it is practically impossible to see all the damage on a vehicle before it is disassembled. The repair facility usually handles this directly with the insurance company.
HIDDEN DAMAGE (also see SUPPLEMENT) – Damage discovered after the vehicle is disassembled.