Advances in Automated Auto Estimating

auto careerIf you have ever been in a car accident, or perhaps if you work as an automotive service technician, you’ll have had experience with an auto estimator. Auto estimators work with mechanics to estimate collision damage and cost, while also negotiating with the client’s insurance company and their budget. With this career, you will spend a large amount of time in the auto body shop, ordering parts, completing insurance forms and documenting invoices. It is also important that somebody in this auto career is well-versed on the cost of auto parts and the industry standards for auto safety.

Handwritten Auto Estimating

Before the recent increase in technology software and tools, auto estimates were done manually. Some auto body shops still use handwritten estimates, however they are time-consuming as they require filling out multiple forms detailing the damages and information necessary to bill the customer. A report will list all the parts and detail the procedures which are needed, then tabulate parts prices and labour costs. Three copies of the estimate must be written out – one for the customer, one for the insurance company and one for the shop. The customer may use their copy to compare prices with competing auto body shops.

Sometimes the customer’s insurance company will be set up with a direct repair program, where the insurance company will automatically send their client’s vehicle to be worked on in a specified shop. This saves time and customer effort to shop around for the best prices. Some customers may choose to salvage parts of their ruined car in order to save money, so it is important for an auto estimator to communicate with the customer to help them get the best deal.

collision estimating training

Automated Estimating Software

In collision estimating training, you will complement your hands-on studies with specialized auto estimating software. There are several brands of these programs on the market, the top being Mitchell Estimating, ALLDATA and Comp-Est. These programs all generally work in the same manner, by providing decision support tools in order to accurately estimate the damage of a vehicle. Mitchell Estimating for example, has a parts compare tool integrated into their software, which allows estimators to determine the part type rather than have the software automatically choose a part for the repair.

This type of automated software also has a total loss calculator, so that the auto estimator is notified if the estimated repairs exceed the cost value of the vehicle. This software takes into account a car’s mileage and an assortment of other determiners. Programs like Comp-Est have a frame and dimensions database of over 1,000 vehicles, is compatible with QuickBooks accounting software, can analyze images and also has an extensive parts database.

It can be rewarding to find a good repair price to satisfy a customer, so if you enjoy working with people and vehicles and are knowledgeable about vehicle parts, this could be the career for you!

Here is a short video demonstrating the basic functions ofMitchell Estimating, a popular automated auto estimator software:

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