In every industry change does happen and in most traditional industries it happens slowly. One change in the collision repair industry that is starting to see real implementation is the move away from ‘Estimate’ to a much more thorough ‘Damage Report’.
Looking at car repairs in a very simplified way; in the past most cars were made mostly out of mild steel and plastic and repairing them did not vary too much from one brand to another. Looking from the outside a qualified person could take a knowledgeable guess and come up with a good approximation or estimate of what it would take to repair the damage.
With today’s vehicles there can be three of four different grades of steel, aluminum and high strength plastic composites, with these different materials not easily identified visually. A knowledgeable guess or estimate is no longer good enough.
The first step in preparation of the damage report is the initial inspection with photos and notes. If the vehicle driver is there questions relating to the accident will help to determine which areas of damage are to be included in the report.
This preliminary information is then used, with access to a range of websites, to write a comprehensive damage report showing best choices for each phase of the repair where this is a choice and clearly identifying those procedures where there are no options other than to follow OEM steps.
The report also flags, in detail and with pricing, possible damage that cannot be assessed until some amount of disassembly for access. There may be mechanical components which will need to be powered before their condition can be verified. The price that comes out of this detailed report is very accurate for all identified steps and the potential cost of damage which cannot yet be verified.
This completed report is then shown to the vehicle owner and insurance company and explained as needed to allow the owner to provide informed authorization for work to start.
Another very important use of this report is to give the repair technicians specific information on the types of materials they are working with so they will know which procedures and equipment to use.