What Does Being A Collision Estimator Involve?

What does it take to become a collision estimator and what’s involved with this important job at a body shop?

An automotive collision estimate writer works for an auto body shop, providing repair cost estimates. Job duties include inspecting damaged vehicles, writing estimate reports and submitting reports to insurance companies. An estimate writer needs training in automotive repair and damage estimating, though work experience in an auto repair shop may substitute for some formal training. These estimators may also wish to receive certification.

Within the insurance industry, collision estimators may also be referred to as automotive damage appraisers and are responsible for examining automotive insurance claims after an accident. After the collision occurs, estimators assess the condition of a vehicle and determine the amount covered by insurance. They also work to prevent any fraudulent claims. A large amount of work time might be spent in auto body repair shops.

Payscale currently reports a $49,257 median annual salary for auto damage Collision Estimator working in an auto-body shop.

To become a collision estimator, you’ll need post-secondary training and/or work experience in auto repair along with optional certification through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.

Let’s go through the steps to become a collision estimator

Step 1: Earn an Associate’s Degree

Many employers seek applicants with formal postsecondary education. A number of technical or community colleges offer 2-year associate’s degrees in collision repair. Along with classes in general subjects such as mathematics, English or business writing, vocational topics include automobile structure, damage analysis and repairs, automotive electrical systems and estimating.

Obtain field experience.

An internship or on-the-job training provides individuals with initial experience in the field and prepares them for employment. During this time, individuals shadow an experienced collision estimator and prepare for full-time employment.

Step 2: Pursue Employment Opportunities

Collision estimators can find employment opportunities with auto body shops. In order to pursue certification opportunities, estimators may need at least two years of experience in the field.

Step 3: Gain Certification

Collision estimators can increase their appeal to prospective employers by becoming certified. Those interested in collision estimating can take an exam to earn certification for damage analysis and estimating. Certified estimators must re-certify every five years.

Step 4: Continue Training for Career Advancement

Additional and ongoing training allows collision estimators to increase their marketability. There are also opportunities for supervisory positions. Collision estimators with advanced training and education can move into insurance investigation, policy issuance or auto body repair management.

Now that we’ve gone through the steps of becoming a Collision Estimator, let’s go through the job description and the daily tasks involved with being one.

1.) Estimates cost of repairing damaged automobile and truck bodies based on visual inspection of vehicle and familiarity with standard parts, costs and labor rates. Examines damaged vehicle for dents, scratches, broken glass and other components requiring repair, replacement, or repainting. Identifies frame damage by visually examining the vehicle and/or placing the vehicle in frame-aligning equipment that indicates location and extent of misalignment. Computes cost of replacement parts and labor to restore vehicle to condition specified by customer, using standard labor and parts cost software systems.

2.) Estimate and furnish repair and labor costs and calculate overall customer payment. Negotiate insurance payment after reviewing extent of auto damage. Draft work order consisting of required repair services after approvals and enter the order into work management system. Obtains relevant signatures and authorizations.

3.) Deals with and communicates with the customer while handling their questions and concerns throughout the entire repair process. Establish good customer relations by providing estimates and timelines and any updates along with obtaining relevant customer information and handling all customer queries effectively.

Traits of the Best Collision Estimators:

  • Attention to detail to ensure accuracy
  • Strong set of interpersonal communication skills
  • Customer service mindset dedicated to helping customers get back on the road
  • Ability to manage multiple projects at once

  • Written by Judell Anderson

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