Auto Paint Job: Use insurance? Cut corners?
May 11, 2015 5:40 PM   Subscribe

I managed to scratch my car doors on a parking garage column. Should I use insurance to cover it or pay myself?

Went to my closest garage and they quoted me $2160 at $93/hour for labor. This sounds really high to me (though the Bay Area is expensive)

(1) Should I get my insurance (geico) to cover it. I could pay out of pocket if I wanted. Is this like health insurance where the insurance company will get a better deal than me?

(2) How much of a better deal can I get if a comparison shop. Will I have to show every auto shop my quote to slowly bring it down

(3) They insist on doing repair work to get it back to brand new shape. Should I believe them. Or cut corners. For instance, the door is "dented" but baaarely so. I can just leave as is as far as I'm concerned.
posted by earlsofsandwich to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think if you use insurance they do have to get it back to 'brand new' shape, but if you go to a somewhat more sketchy mechanic they may be willing to do less and charge less.
posted by corb at 5:49 PM on May 11, 2015

If you make a claim on your insurance, your premiums will go up. By how much, I couldn't tell you, but I've generally found it to be a good idea to leave the insurance company out of the picture when possible.

Consider going to the dealer, at least for an estimate. They have the exact paint, no matching required.
posted by janey47 at 6:03 PM on May 11, 2015

I wouldn't use insurance unless I wanted it restored to "brand new" state, and even then I'd check whether it would impact my premium. I'd go (have gone) to a few shops to discuss a simpler cheaper job, expecting to pay under $1000.
posted by anadem at 6:27 PM on May 11, 2015

That's way high for just painting a door.
posted by spitbull at 6:36 PM on May 11, 2015

Try comparing at professional detailers as well as other garage/body shops; in my experience you can find details to do the work for much less, especially if you're not set on a return to "factory new."
posted by TwoStride at 7:01 PM on May 11, 2015

I should have said unless it's a fancy car, of course.

If it's a common car in a common color you might just get a replacement door from a junkyard wreck. Problem solved.
posted by spitbull at 7:39 PM on May 11, 2015

posted by Oyéah at 9:18 PM on May 11, 2015

Geico is only cheap until you cost them any money, then they jack your rates enormously.

What mechanic do you take your car to? i'd ask them what body shop to take it to if you don't really care and don't want to spend a lot or involve insurance. They'll probably have a "well we usually use these guys because they do a good job, but there's these other guys that are cheaper but bla bla bla" sort of response.
posted by emptythought at 10:04 PM on May 11, 2015

I can just leave as is as far as I'm concerned.

I'm not sure why you are asking this question then. Just don't bother getting it fixed.

If you pay out of pocket it's going to cost money, and if you have your insurance cover it your rates may go up and cost you money. And it will take some time to get quotes, get the work done, and you won't have the car available while it's being worked on.
posted by yohko at 11:27 PM on May 11, 2015

I offroad my truck, and this results in lots of pinstripes and scratches from trees and rocks. I get them detailed, and you'd be impressed at what will "just buff out". It costs me about 300 bucks a year, but worth it to retard the damage rust can do.

In your shoes, I'd get it detailed well, and see if that gets it done well enough. If it doesn't work, they will still need to remove, reapply, and blend in, the new paint - you won't hinder that work, you'll just be out the cost. But 300 hundred out of pocket vs. 2200/deductible... I'd gamble on it. Besides, it doesn't need to be "like new" unless you really care - few people will care about some door scratches on a used car.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:15 AM on May 12, 2015

I recently talked to a good but not too spendy shop about some long creases and paint dings, and their rate was around $500 per panel (e.g: door, hatch, hood). $2160 sounds like more than just a scratch quote.

Be sure to tell the garage you're paying out of pocket. In my limited experience body and paint shops will quote a high rate for insurance work, and a lower one for an individual.
posted by zippy at 2:18 AM on May 12, 2015

$2160 sounds like they are buying a new OEM door, painting it to match, and installing it. You want to go to local hole in wall body shop where they will simply sand it down around the damaged area and repaint to match. Even at $90 an hour I can't see it being more than a 10 hour job.
posted by COD at 5:39 AM on May 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

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