i expect that an estimate is typically free. however, if any disassembly was performed, then you may have to pay the shop hourly rate for that. similarly, collision repair shops may also charge a 'storage' fee.
when i crashed my Subaru a few years ago, the body shop held it for 5 weeks and did nothing (using up my rental coverage period). they did not keep me informed, and ultimately when i went to retrieve the car they would not let me take it before making my insurance company pay them for holding the car on their lot and for towing to the lot. i don't have a good amount of trust in strangers when it comes to working on my cars: they stored my car outside, and in spite of clearly visible damage to the timing belt cover and a drained radiator, they drove the car to move it around their lot. if the timing belt had slipped, this would have catastrophically damaged the interference engine. anyway.. i fixed the car with my father's help and still drive it.
i would expect that a body shop only really needs your car's rear clam on site in order to repair it's damage. in that case, what are the chances that you could keep the car at home and carry the clam back and forth? then they would not have an opportunity to store the car outdoors or be tempted to drive it around.. you can borrow my tin foil hat if you'd like too...
Last edited by Obeisance; Today at 02:52 AM.