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The aftermath of an accident is always a series of headaches. Let’s simplify one aspect: collision repair. If you need bodywork after a collision, you’ll have some decisions to make, like whether to make an insurance claim to pay for the repair and which auto body shop to go to.

We’ll talk through these decisions step by step, along with what to expect for repair costs depending on your car and the severity of the damage. A car accident presents an important opportunity to reassess your car insurance situation, especially if your insurance company raises your rates after a claim. Compare car insurance quotes online today.

Quick Facts
  • Auto body repair costs range widely depending on the severity of the damage and your vehicle, but they can get expensive quickly.

  • Only file a claim with your insurance company if the repair costs significantly exceed your deductible.

  • Vet your auto body repair shops carefully before choosing one with a great reputation that gives you the best estimate.

Will my auto insurance cover the damage?

Will my car insurance cover the cost of minor auto body repairs?

Depending on the type of coverage you have, your car insurance may or may not help you cover the cost of different repairs. Full coverage insurance is the most likely to help you cover costs of these repairs.

First of all, your insurance policy might not cover the repair costs for your car. It depends on your answer to this question. “Do you have comprehensive and collision insurance?” If so, no matter who is at fault in the accident or what you hit, your insurance company will cover the cost of repairs after you pay your deductible.

If you don’t have comprehensive or collision insurance and the accident was your fault, you’ll pay the cost of your repairs out of pocket. But at least you’ll know whether to make an insurance claim and risk increasing your insurance premium.

If the accident is not your fault, you’ll have to contact the insurance provider of the at-fault party to get reimbursed for the repair costs. Document the damage thoroughly, and save all your receipts and invoices, including if you have to rent a car while your vehicle is repaired.

Best Car Insurance Companies

Best Car Insurance Companies

Common Collision Repairs

So what can you expect to pay for different types of damage? That’s a hard question to answer with generalities. Vehicle repair costs vary depending on the type of vehicle in question and the severity of the damage. So with a luxury car, you’ll be on the high end of these ranges, while drivers of older, cheaper cars can expect to pay lower repair costs.

Windshield Replacement

If it’s only a small crack, a windshield repair can cost you less than $100. But the average cost of a full windshield replacement is usually several hundred dollars. That depends on whether you need specialized glass, which could put you into the $1,000+ range.

Fender and Bumper Repair

More than most bodywork, the cost of this repair will depend on the extent of the damage. A few dings on your fender or bumper will generally cost you between $200 and $600. But front or rear bumper or fender replacement is probably going to exceed $1,000 in overall costs and could be close to $2,000.

Your repair costs will be especially inflated if your car has sophisticated sensor and camera technology that gets damaged inside the frame. Those electrical systems and computers can be pricey to fix.

Suspension and Alignment

A ding on your car might result in a few paint scratches that look pretty harmless at first glance. But the real danger is that the impact to your car’s body has damaged the frame, shock absorbers, alignment, or suspension. This is when some pretty high repair costs come into play, and you’ll want to think carefully about involving your insurance company.

Paint Damage

If you’re only repairing your car’s body rather than replacing parts, a body shop might be able to use a repair process called paintless dent repair to smooth out dents without requiring touch-ups to your paint job. But often, you’ll need some paint in addition to almost any collision repair.

If you have an older car and a few paint scratches don’t bother you, it might be worth your while to just let them be. New paint jobs can be costly, at least a few hundred dollars for the most basic. If your car is a victim of significant vandalism and requires a brand-new paint job, you’d better have comprehensive coverage because that could cost several thousand dollars.

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Should you file a claim with your insurance company?

After you’ve been in a car accident, you have the choice of whether to file a claim with your insurance company to try to get help paying for the repair costs. After all, that’s what insurance is for.

But there’s a trade-off you have to take into account: once you make an insurance claim for repairs, you’ll probably see your insurance premium go up. So the repair costs have to be worth your while. Here’s how to think about this decision.

Check Your Policy

If you don’t know the deductible for your comprehensive coverage or collision coverage, check with your insurance agent, mobile app, or policy documents. Your deductible is probably either $500 or $1,000. If you make an insurance claim, you’ll pay your deductible out of pocket before the reimbursement kicks in.

Compare Your Deductible and Repair Estimate

Let’s say your deductible is $500, and the best cost estimate you get from a body shop is $700. That’s a situation where you’ll want to forgo an insurance claim and pay the whole bill out of pocket because the increase in your insurance premium will quickly eclipse the mere $200 the insurance company will pay to help out.

On the other hand, a $1,000 repair on a $500 deductible is more of a personal choice. If your repairs are $2,000 or more, it’s a no-brainer to file an insurance claim. If you’re unsure, you can also consult with an insurance agent about what to do.

Cheap Car Insurance

Cheap Car Insurance

Finding the Best Auto Body Repair Shop for the Job

Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re looking for an auto body shop to take on your vehicle repairs.

Call a few places for a cost estimate on the repair. Just like shopping for car insurance, you don’t want to take the first offer you’re given. Shop around because the same job won’t always cost the same at every body shop.

Ask for details about the repair process, including the cost of parts, estimated labor costs, and labor rates. This will help you sort out what makes the cost of repair different at different places. Some repair shops will have access to cheaper parts, or they may sell aftermarket parts you may or may not want. Labor costs will also vary.

If you use a dealership, do your homework first. Dealerships can save money sometimes with better access to parts, but they also might have high labor costs and be required to perform repairs that are unnecessary.

Check each body shop for certifications and online reviews. You want to know what people have to say about the auto body shop you want to work with and if you can count on their work.

The best referral is by word of mouth. Ask your friends, neighbors, and coworkers where they’ve had bodywork done in the area. They can tell you things that the internet won’t, and you might hear about a place you don’t find with a web search.

If your insurance company is paying, check if they have a network of approved repair shops. You might get discounts for using them, or you’ll only be covered at an approved car repair shop or dealership.

If your vehicle has a warranty, think twice before you make repairs. If you use aftermarket parts, you might void it. If you’re worried about this, a dealership might be the way to go.

Best and Worst Sites to Compare Car Insurance

Best and Worst Sites to Compare Car Insurance

Frequently Asked Questions

  • I need bodywork after a car accident. Will my auto insurance cover it?

    If you have a full-coverage car insurance policy with comprehensive and collision coverage, it covers car repairs from any type of car accident. If you only have liability insurance, you won’t be covered if you’re at fault. But if you’re not at fault, the person at fault will pay with their insurance if they’re covered.

  • Should I pay for my auto body repair with an insurance claim?

    This depends on the cost of the repair in question and what your deductible is. If the deductible and cost estimate are the same or only a few hundred dollars different, it’s probably best to take the hit and forgo the claim. That way, you don’t give the insurance company an opportunity to raise your rates. But if it’s a costly repair, file an insurance claim. It’s what your policy is for.

  • How do I find a good repair shop?

    Word of mouth is the best way to find a trustworthy repair shop, but online reviews help, too. Ask multiple car repair shops for a cost estimate on the job, with details on labor costs, rates, parts, and a time frame. Just like with insurance, comparison-shopping is key.

  • If I make an insurance claim, will my insurance premiums go up?

    Generally, yes. If you’re not at fault in the car accident, some states prohibit insurance companies from raising your rates when you make an insurance claim. But this isn’t always the case. You’ll want to weigh the repair costs, your deductible, and the cost of a potential insurance increase when you decide to make a claim or not. An insurance agent can help with this.

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Data scientists at Insurify analyzed more than 40 million real-time auto insurance rates from our partner providers across the United States to compile the car insurance quotes, statistics, and data visualizations displayed on this page. The car insurance data includes coverage analysis and details on drivers' vehicles, driving records, and demographic information. Quotes for Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, State Farm, and USAA are estimates based on Quadrant Information Service's database of auto insurance rates. With these insights, Insurify is able to offer drivers insight into how companies price their car insurance premiums.

Charlie Mitchell
Charlie MitchellInsurance Writer

Charlie Mitchell is a journalist, researcher, and writer specializing in personal finance subjects. He holds a degree from Middlebury College. His work can be found in Vox, Mother Jones, The New Republic, and other publications. Charlie uses his expertise in home, renters, and auto insurance subjects to help inform people to make better financial decisions. Connect with Charlie on LinkedIn.