When Should You File an Insurance Claim for Damage to Your Car

Written by Central Body Co Inc on . Posted in Uncategorized

When your car becomes damaged, whether from an accident or a storm, your first instinct is probably to call your insurance company. Your automotive policy exists to ensure that expenses you can’t cover and that could leave your or someone else dealing with injuries or property damage are sorted out.

When Should You File an Insurance Claim for Damage to Your Car

However, an insurance claim almost always results in a premium increase. You may even experience a premium increase by calling to talk about whether or not you should file a claim based on the number of similar inquiries you’ve made in the past.

It’s important to understand when you are required to file a claim, when it’s a good idea to file a claim, and when you should handle vehicle damage repairs on your own. In this blog, we discuss four factors to help you decide how to proceed after your car is damaged.

  1. Coverage

Not all types of vehicle damage are covered under every policy. For example, your policy may not include coverage for vandalism, storm damage, or fire.

Before you file a claim, look through your policy information to see if you can identify whether or not the damage is covered. If you make a claim for damage that isn’t covered, you may not get any help with repairs and your premium could still take a hit.

If possible, look through policy information you have on hand or can access online because, as mentioned in the introduction, inquiries can result in penalties.

  1. Extent of Vehicle Damage

If you find yourself in a situation where you could cover the costs of repairs yourself, these circumstances are usually when you would choose not to file a claim. In fact, it may be wise not to file a claim if the cost of your deductible is equal to or more than the cost of the repairs themselves.

When you’re checking your coverage, find out what your deductible is. If you have a repairs deductible of $500, it doesn’t make sense to pay that amount to your insurance company and have your premiums changed for a repair bill of less than that amount.

  1. Legal Fault

As a rule, when more than one person is involved in a driving incident, you should file a claim unless no one is hurt and the damage is minimal. Which insurance company you file the claim with can depend on which involved party is found legally at fault.

If you know that the other driver is at fault, you can file a claim with his or her insurance company directly. This claim will go under the other driver’s liability coverage.

If you know that you’ll be found legally at fault, file a claim with your own insurance under your collision policy. This claim can protect you from the cost of repairs to both the other driver’s vehicle and your own, as well as potential medical and legal expenses.

If fault is unclear, disputed, or undetermined, file a claim with your insurance company. Your insurance adjuster is one of the parties who helps determine legal fault and he or she can advocate on your behalf during that portion of the claims process.

  1. Other Types of Damage

When your vehicle is the only item damaged in an incident, you may have the choice not to file an insurance claim. However, when there are also other types of damage, you may be required to file.

For example, if anyone was injured in an accident, filing a claim is essential. This rule includes passersby and passengers, as well as you and the driver of the other vehicle. If you choose not to file a claim, you may be responsible for all medical expenses if you’re found at fault.

You may also need to file an insurance claim if the incident affected public property or property that doesn’t belong to you, even if the damage resulted from a one-car accident where no one was hurt. If you do not file a claim, the owner of the property could potentially sue you over the damages caused.

If your vehicle and another piece of your own property were both damaged in a driving incident, you should consider the costs when deciding whether or not to claim. If you can cover the costs of both repairs on your own, it doesn’t make financial sense to submit a claim.

However, if you could be subject to fines on top of the repair costs because visible property damage violates your homeowner association agreement terms, for example, a claim may be in your best interests.

While your insurance coverage offers you protection, using the policy incorrectly can result in hefty costs. Weigh the factors listed above to ensure that you make the right decision about damage to your vehicle.

If you need an estimate on repairs for your vehicle, come to Central Body Company, Inc. We offer remote estimates that can help you decide whether involving your insurance company is necessary.

Rust and Dents: How Auto Professionals Address Two Common Car Roof Problems

Written by Central Body Co Inc on . Posted in Uncategorized

You rely on your car’s roof to protect you from poor weather and falling objects. But you probably don’t realize how important your car’s roof is—until something goes wrong.

How Auto Professionals Address Two Common Car Roof Problems

There are two main reasons your car’s roof may need attention from a professional: rust and dents. Here are the methods auto professionals use to address these problems.

Rust

If you frequently park your car outdoors, the air and moisture can cause your car’s roof to rust over time. While this rust doesn’t harm your car’s functionality, it does make it look unattractive. If left alone, the rust could spread to other areas of your car. This can make it hard to sell your car for a reasonable price.

There are three different methods auto repair specialists use to repair rusty roofs.

Re-Paint

A simple way to address rust is to have an auto repair company re-paint your rusty roof. First, they’ll remove the paint with a sander and remove the rust buildups with a metal grinding wheel. Then, they’ll prime and sand the area and add new paint. They’ll also buff the paint to make sure it matches the paint on the rest of the car.

Filler Patch

If the rust has caused any holes or pits in the car, the auto repair company may need to place a filler patch over the area. They’ll grind down the rusty area until it gets to a point where the metal is no longer rusted. Then, they’ll cover the area with a filler patch before sanding, priming, and painting it.

Rust Converter

Yet another option auto specialists can use is to apply a rust converter to the roof surface. The rust converter changes the rust into iron tannate, a less-noticeable black coating. They can then add touch-up paint to the surface to cover the coating.

Dents

Hail can make a huge impact on your car’s roof, leaving dents throughout the surface. Or a tree branch or another large object could fall on your car’s roof and leave a dent behind. As with repairing rust, there are three different methods professionals can use to repair dents.

Finish Glazing

If the damage is small, professionals may be able to fix it with the finish glazing method. They sand and clean the damaged area before applying a finish glaze. Then they re-paint the area to restore its look.

Paintless Dent Repair

For more serious damage, many auto professionals prefer paintless dent repair. Through this method, professionals push out the dent from the roof panel’s underside. This gives the roof a dent-free appearance without the need to repair, replace, or paint car parts.

Heat Repair

The most traditional dent repair method is known as heat repair. The professionals apply heat to the surface to raise the metal. They then tap the roof with a hammer to lower the roof to the level it was at before the dents occurred. After heat repair, professionals need to re-paint the roof to add a finishing touch. This method is fast and effective, but may not work for newer vehicles made of thinner metals.

When Your Car Roof Needs Replacement

If the rust or dent damage is too extensive for these repair methods, professionals may need to replace your car’s roof panel. They do so by following these steps:

  1. Remove the front and rear glass as well as the adhesive around the roof.
  2. Cut out the roof panel with an air saw and air chisel and remove the panel.
  3. Use an angle grinder to remove coatings from the new panel.
  4. Check the new panel to ensure a correct fit.
  5. Apply an adhesive and install the new panel.
  6. Clamp the roof and give the adhesive a couple of hours to dry.
  7. Use a welder to seal the bond.
  8. Sand, prime, and paint the new roof panel.

If the car is an older model or if the damage extends beyond the outer panel, professionals may need to replace the entire roof. While the process is similar to replacing the roof panel, there are a few specific steps:

  1. Remove the trim and molding around the roof.
  2. Use saws and other tools to remove the entire damaged roof.
  3. Secure a new roof. Measure and cut it until it perfectly matches the car’s alignment.
  4. Weld the new roof to the car.

The process of getting a new roof panel or an entirely new roof can take several hours or longer.

If you notice rust or dents in your car’s roof, bring it in to an auto body shop. Not every repair method will work for every car or situation. Professionals can examine your car, determine the ideal repair method for your situation, and offer you a free estimate.

Getting a dent- or rust-free roof is easier than you think. If you live in the Omaha, NE area, call on Central Body Company, Inc. for an evaluation and a free estimate.

How Hard Is It to Repair a Car Made From Aluminum?

Written by Central Body Co Inc on . Posted in Uncategorized

Well known for its lightness and recyclability, aluminum is a mainstay in the automotive industry. Although the lightweight metal is used in a wide variety of modern automotive applications, it’s only in recent times that aluminum has been extensively used in a mass-production vehicle. German automaker Audi used it extensively for its flagship A8 sedan, and Ford currently uses it for its aluminum-bodied F-150 pickup truck.

How Hard Is It to Repair a Car Made From Aluminum

With aluminum’s use on the rise throughout the automotive industry, auto body shops throughout the United States are rising to meet the unique challenges that aluminum body and frame repair pose. So just how hard is it to repair cars that use aluminum extensively? The following explains some of the challenges involved in repairing aluminum body panels and frames.

Differences in Aluminum and Steel

The fundamental differences between aluminum and steel pose a number of challenges for auto body specialists. For instance, aluminum lacks the “metal memory” that’s present in most varieties of steel. Metal memory describes steel’s ability to be worked back into its original shape when damaged. A typical dent repair usually includes some carefully applied pressure and a variety of metal-shaping tools to push, pull, and massage the dented panel back to form.

Although aluminum is typically more elastic and malleable than steel, it lacks the latter’s ability to “remember” its original shape. As a result, dent repairs involving aluminum often take longer and involve more labor than those involving steel body panels. In many cases, moderately damaged aluminum panels may be nearly impossible to repair properly, resulting in the need for a complete panel replacement.

Aluminum also responds to heat differently than steel, making any repair involving welds or other sources of heat challenging for experts. Unlike steel, aluminum conducts and absorbs heat at a faster rate. Aluminum is often more malleable when worked with heat, but too much heat can cause welds to fail and welded components to become damaged beyond repair. This fact explains why aluminum panels are typically bonded and riveted into place instead of being welded.

Galvanic corrosion is also an issue when dealing with aluminum body repairs, especially when attempts are made to join aluminum body panels to steel components. Joining the two dissimilar metals together can put the aluminum panel at risk of galvanic corrosion.

Differences in Repair Methods

Conventional steel body panels can be worked back into shape using a number of traditional tools and techniques. But convention tends to fly out the window when it comes to repairing aluminum body panels. Many of the tools that auto body shops rely on to successfully complete steel repairs can’t be used on aluminum without causing significant damage. For instance, taking a sheet metal shrinking hammer to an aluminum body panel could result in more damage being done to the panel.

There’s also the issue of straightening aluminum frames versus those made from steel and other alloys. Whereas a conventional steel frame can be straightened and adjusted using traditional methods, aluminum frames often require state-of-the-art repair equipment. Some of this equipment may be specific to a particular make and model, which could make repairs more expensive and harder to schedule due to availability issues.

Environmental Challenges

Even the environment in which aluminum body repairs take place may be drastically different from steel. A typical auto body shop may have a completely separate area devoted towards aluminum repairs to cut down on the possibility of cross-contamination. Cross-contamination can occur when iron oxide dust from previous steel repairs settle on aluminum body panels, putting the panel at risk of galvanic corrosion.

The possibility of cross-contamination also makes it more important for auto body shops to use tools specifically devoted to aluminum repair. Using a tool that was previously used to repair a steel component could introduce iron oxide fragments to the unfinished aluminum, resulting in galvanic corrosion.

In addition to cross-contamination, there’s also the risk of combustion due to aluminum dust buildup. High concentrations of aluminum dust can put surrounding areas at risk of an explosion, especially when there are sources of heat or electrical spark nearby. It’s crucial for auto body shops to have an effective means of capturing and removing aluminum dust from work areas.

The Final Verdict

All of the issues mentioned above can add significant time and expense to an aluminum body or frame repair. As auto body shops become more familiar with aluminum repairs and as more automakers use aluminum in their mainstream cars and trucks, such repairs are likely to be less difficult in the near future. In time, an ordinary aluminum body repair may be indistinguishable from a conventional steel repair in terms of cost and labor.

The experts at Central Body Company, Inc. can handle just about any type of auto body or collision repair. If you’re in the Omaha area and need help getting your vehicle back into shape, call us or schedule your appointment online.

5 Tips to Regain Your Sense of Control After a Vehicle Collision

Written by Central Body Co Inc on . Posted in Uncategorized

A vehicle accident can be nerve-rattling and life-altering, especially if the circumstances leading up to the crash were completely out of your control. There are five ways you can take back control after a wreck. Follow the tips below to get started.

5 Tips to Regain Your Sense of Control After a Vehicle Collision

Document Everything

After an accident, your first thoughts may be focused on how to have your vehicle repaired as fast as possible, even if you’ve been injured yourself. Whether you have a job, kids, or a health condition requiring routine doctors’ visits, you need your car or truck.

It’s understandable to want to have your vehicle returned to you quickly, but nearly every accident can become a potential legal issue. After you attend to the medical needs of everyone at the crash scene, including yourself, you should gather as much evidence as you can about the crash.

If you don’t have paper and pen on hand, use your phone to document the situation with a video of yourself describing the scene or send texts with the info to a trustworthy loved one.

Include the following information:

  • The time, date, and location
  • The weather and road conditions
  • Traffic conditions
  • Direction of travel of involved vehicles
  • Your approximate rate of speed
  • License plates of all vehicles
  • Contact information for other drivers and passengers
  • Insurance information of involved drivers
  • Names of and contact information for witnesses

Use your phone or a camera to take pictures and/or video of the damaged vehicles if it is safe to do so. Take pictures of the crash scene from all angles to show the complete picture of the location and the aftermath of the accident.

If you were too injured or shaken to gather evidence, return to the scene as soon as possible to take pictures of the area. Ask your collision repair specialists to take pictures of all car damage for you. Seemingly insignificant details like paint scrapes or dents from another car can help you win a settlement or avoid a driving violation on your record.

Have Your Car Scanned

New auto scanning methods can detect problems you can’t see just by looking at a wrecked car. Vital structural components, performance systems, or safety elements may have been damaged in the crash, compromising the integrity of your vehicle.

Reputable body shops are happy to scan your car before and after your collision repair to ensure your vehicle is safe and reliable. Many shops do scans on all crashed cars as a matter of course.

Ask for copies of the scans to add to any legal filings or insurance claims related to the wreck. First, check to see if your insurance company requested that this information be sent to them directly from the body shop in order to process your claim.

Make Improvements to Your Vehicle

Sometimes, you don’t want your car to be “as good as it was before the wreck.” You want it to be better. Don’t be shy. Let your collision repair pros know what you’re thinking.

Modern body shops deal with all sorts of glitches and weaknesses in car bodies of all sorts. The techs know how to upgrade your car’s body with new replacement parts that are better than the original factory parts.

For example, if you have a Camaro manufactured between 1978 and 1981, the front and rear bumper surfaces made of urethane just don’t hold up to wear and tear. Now, your body shop can order fiberglass front and rear bumpers that are solid and sturdy, making your Camaro look great and ensuring it can withstand dings far better than before.

If you want a new paint job, spoiler or other upgrade, ask the techs about it. Your insurance may not cover “extras” or cosmetic upgrades. However, if you’ve always wanted some racing stripes or chrome, it makes sense to have the work done during the collision repair phase.

Understand Your Car Type

Cars come in a variety of construction and material types. Steel, aluminum, fiberglass, and plastic are the main materials used in car body design.

Each of these materials requires skill and training to make repairs and replace car body components. Some of the materials are easier to replace than others.

If your car is made of aluminum, there may be a higher charge to replace body panels. Aluminum doesn’t take to welding as steel does, and there are additional limitations in the way it is applied and bolted to vehicles.

Car manufacturers are developing ways for collision shops to more easily replace non-steel car components. Until car makers have perfected the aluminum and other repair processes—and have taught the methods to most body shop techs—expect a pricier repair build when you crash a newer model vehicle.

Choose a Certified Repair Shop

Check the credentials of any repair shop from which you receive estimates. The cheapest quote isn’t always the best deal.

Look for certification from the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). To qualify for this seal on their businesses, body shop owners must employ techs with proven experience and skills in automotive repair.

I-CAR certification goes beyond these credentials to require ongoing training for techs on the latest vehicle repair methods. Look for I-CAR Gold Class certification if you want repairs made in a state-of-the-art shop. Businesses with this designation must stay on the cutting edge of new auto body materials and collision repair technology.

 

Contact Central Body Company, Inc. today to get your collision repair started. Our techs are ASE certified and recognized as Gold Class Professionals by I-CAR. We have the skills and tools to get you back on the road and feeling in control again.

After the Accident: Collision Repair Myths That Will Cost You

Written by Central Body Co Inc on . Posted in Uncategorized

Navigating the aftermath of a car accident provides enough headaches without your having to fight your insurance company about car repairs. Many body shops, such as ours, do their best to process claims and work with insurance companies to get you the repairs you need done.

Collision Repair Myths That Will Cost You

However, no matter how involved you want to be with the process, you should know about these common body-repair myths. If you aren’t aware of your rights as a car owner and insurance holder, you could end up paying more than you should.

Myth: You Can’t Choose Your Repair Shop

Your insurance company may suggest where you can take your car. Your agent may even offer towing services to a specific auto body shop. However, you have the right to choose any shop you would like to service your vehicle. Your insurance company will have to cover the cost.

This is useful because not all body shops provide the same caliber of work or provide services for specialized vehicles. For example, if you have an antique vehicle or higher-end sports car, you may have a body shop you use regularly for repairs and paint jobs.

In some cases, it’s better to choose a shop that is out of your insurance network. You’ll still pay for your deductible either way, but by going independent, you can avoid shops that have pre-set rates with insurance companies. Pre-set rates can affect the quality of work and the caliber of the repair materials.

Insurance companies often try to push you to choose shops that provide the lowest bid for the work you need done. Companies may also contest things like time estimates for repairs and whether or not parts should be repaired instead of replaced. Stay involved in the repair process and catch these discrepancies. Usually the restoration specialist’s estimates and suggestions are the best path for your car.

Myth: You’ll Pay the Difference Between Estimate and Cost

Your insurance company will assess the damage on your vehicle and decide on an estimated cost for repairs. The estimated cost and the actual cost can differ greatly. Many people believe they’ll be on the hook for anything that goes over the original estimate.

This is not the case. Many factors go into price, and sometimes, damage can be hidden or more difficult to fix because of part sourcing or the cost of materials. As the restoration of your vehicle progresses, your insurance company must make concessions for damages that were not assessed properly with the original estimate.

Myth: My Car Will Not Be the Same After It’s Repaired

Many people forgo repairing their car entirely and instead use the reimbursement from insurance companies to buy a different vehicle altogether. Usually people do this because they think their car simply won’t ever look as nice or drive as well as it did before the accident.

This is simply not the case. Gone of the days of beating out the dents and touching up with paint that almost-but-not-quite matches. Some cars are damaged beyond repair, but many, even those with extensive cosmetic damage, can look and feel new again.

New technology in collision repair allows the repair specialists to fit your car back to its factory specs. There is no guess work—every repair is measured and precise. Repair shops use the correct color of paint (sourced from the manufacturer of your vehicle) and the exact materials. When a piece is not salvageable, new parts may be used.

Myth: My Car Will Lose All Its Value

Since your car has been in an accident, it no longer has a clean title, which does affect its resell value. However, you have some control over maintaining the value of your vehicle. If possible, ask your auto dealer to use OEM (original-equipment manufacturer) parts with your repair. These will replace the damaged parts with ones exactly like your originals.

Refurbished or off-brand parts will do the job, but they will more negatively affect the value of your vehicle.

Insurance companies can be very strict about parts because off-brand and refurbished parts cost less money. When you are not at fault for your car accident, however, you have grounds to fight for OEM parts in your insurance claim.

Myth: Warranties Are Worth It

Some insurance companies will offer warranties on body work done at networked auto shops. These warranties might seem attractive enough to you to stop you from shopping around for the best shop you can find.

However, warranties are often unnecessary for repair work. For example, some shops may offer their own warranty with the work, or they might provide guarantees on labor and parts. These guarantees could be similar to or better than the warranty your insurance company offers.

For more information on dealing with insurance and after-accident repairs, contact us at Central Body Company, Inc. We can help you get the estimates you need as well as communicate with your insurance company to help you get the most out of your coverage.

CENTRAL BODY COMPANY INC.
4682 Leavenworth, Omaha, NE 68106
Phone: (402) 551-3177
Fax: (402) 551-1642

CENTRAL BODY COMPANY INC.
1401 S 16th Street, Council Bluffs, IA 51501
Phone: (712) 352-0099

Omaha Location

Council Bluffs Location