Body Shop charging insurance est. and not honoring their original estimate?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 16, 2012

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Insurance Question from Chester, VA

Asked on 02/16/2012

Body Shop charging insurance est. and not honoring their original estimate? lady hits my car. Her ins. accepted responsibility, looked at my car, did the est and cut me a check for the amount of their estimate. I took car to body shop, they did an estimate IN WRITING and it came out to be $400 less than the check that her ins. co. wrote me. Body shop asks me to bring in the ins. co. est. when I drop off car. When I go to pay for work, all of a sudden the total is now the **exact** amount of the ins. co. est., not the original est. of the body shop. Is this legal? Can I refuse to pay anything other than the original body shop est. amount (which I have in writing...)

Answer given on February 19, 2012

Since you had two different estimates for the damage to your car, you should have clarified with the body shop that they understood the differences between their estimate and the one for the insurance company. There could be additional damages on the insurance estimate that the body shop didn’t find when doing their estimate. As they repaired the car they may have found the additional damage.You need to talk to the body shop to see why they changed their estimate. Take their original esimate in to have them go over it, and see what the differences are. It may be very simple to explain. They probably should have called you if they found additional damages that increased the original estimate.If you refuse to pay the final repair price from the body shop they may refuse to release your car until the entire amount is paid. If you try to make a legal case about this it may be more trouble than it is worth. You did have the full amount from the insurance company for the repairs, which is really what yoiu wanted originally.

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