Navigating body shops for collision damage - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-16-2019, 12:47 PM Thread Starter
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Navigating body shops for collision damage

Had the unfortunate displeasure of someone backing into my Elise through the rearview mirror while I was sitting in it and was wondering if anyone could provide some tips on navigating this process of insurance companies? This was one of my biggest fears when I got this car and I’m nervous the quality of the repair just won’t match up to the quality of the vehicle. She managed to do just enough damage to crack the rear panel drivers side. Here’s a picture:

Any and all input is appreciated!!
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-16-2019, 12:49 PM Thread Starter
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Additionally, I just filed the claim for the repair this morning on their insurance.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-16-2019, 04:27 PM
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I don't know my yellows, but that looks like the opaque one, so getting a decent paint job shouldn't be hard. The "lifestyle" paints like chrome orange are an order of magnitude harder since the primer, base coat, color, AND flake must all perfectly match. You might also want to contact your own insurance company if theirs lowballs you or forces you to use some random shop. Contacting your own insurer won't affect your rates since you are not at fault, and they'll be much more interested in how happy you are with the process - the other company just wants you to go away.

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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-18-2019, 09:34 AM
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That can be repaired but the clam will have to come off. Look for a collision shop that has worked on these cars. Unfortunately this is a part of Lotus ownership but it seems the damage is not too bad.

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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-18-2019, 11:51 AM
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You might get more feedback if we knew where you were in the world. I have personal experience with a body shop here in Pinellas County FL that has done work for me on three different cars including my Elise. Professional grade fiberglass work & paint matching is just another day there with a lifetime warranty. Their resume includes Ferrari's, Maclaren's, Lotus etc. If your too far to benefit from them directly, they may have a reference to a place near you that they could recommend. They are: Northwest Collision Center LLC - (727) 347-8945
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-19-2019, 08:06 AM Thread Starter
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I don't know my yellows, but that looks like the opaque one, so getting a decent paint job shouldn't be hard. The "lifestyle" paints like chrome orange are an order of magnitude harder since the primer, base coat, color, AND flake must all perfectly match. You might also want to contact your own insurance company if theirs lowballs you or forces you to use some random shop. Contacting your own insurer won't affect your rates since you are not at fault, and they'll be much more interested in how happy you are with the process - the other company just wants you to go away.
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You might get more feedback if we knew where you were in the world. I have personal experience with a body shop here in Pinellas County FL that has done work for me on three different cars including my Elise. Professional grade fiberglass work & paint matching is just another day there with a lifetime warranty. Their resume includes Ferrari's, Maclaren's, Lotus etc. If your too far to benefit from them directly, they may have a reference to a place near you that they could recommend. They are: Northwest Collision Center LLC - (727) 347-8945
Charlotte, NC.
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-19-2019, 09:21 AM
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There is a great shop in Atlanta that I just used that did great work...perfect paint match and staffed with folks who have worked on Lotus cars for a long time. They aren’t quick but they don’t pinch pennies, and they do it right, without cutting any corners.
European Collision Repair. Sandy Springs, GA. Steve Pettit is the contact.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 05:34 AM Thread Starter
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There is a great shop in Atlanta that I just used that did great work...perfect paint match and staffed with folks who have worked on Lotus cars for a long time. They aren’t quick but they don’t pinch pennies, and they do it right, without cutting any corners.
European Collision Repair. Sandy Springs, GA. Steve Pettit is the contact.
If I could avoid the 4 hour drive (I don’t have a trailer) that would be ideal, but worth a look ill give them a call. I have a place called Caliber collision that’s working on an estimate who’s done work on a previous Elise, apparently it took almost a year to get an entire rear clamshell from Lotus barebones! Also got a quote from Hendrick Mercedes luxury body shop which I liked, and has a large amount of exotic experience. Meeting with the appraiser today so we’ll see where I’m at tomorrow with all of this.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 06:01 AM
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If I could avoid the 4 hour drive (I donít have a trailer) that would be ideal, but worth a look ill give them a call. I have a place called Caliber collision thatís working on an estimate whoís done work on a previous Elise, apparently it took almost a year to get an entire rear clamshell from Lotus barebones! Also got a quote from Hendrick Mercedes luxury body shop which I liked, and has a large amount of exotic experience. Meeting with the appraiser today so weíll see where Iím at tomorrow with all of this.
You absolutely do not need a new rear clam; they may try to total it if you do. It sounds absurd, but it happens. You also don't have to go with OE. You options like GRP's rear clam that have shorter lead times (I think mine was 4 months or something like that). You will also have the option of taking payment for whatever they write up and then having it fixed on your own but this will mean that any new damage you find after the payment won't be covered. Still, if you are okay with a repair and they are willing to pay for a new one, this option may mean you get it fixed much, much faster.

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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 06:12 AM
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Rear clam can be repaired, there is no need for a new clam. Fiberglass can be repair by a fiber glass expert.
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 05:31 AM Thread Starter
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You absolutely do not need a new rear clam; they may try to total it if you do. It sounds absurd, but it happens. You also don't have to go with OE. You options like GRP's rear clam that have shorter lead times (I think mine was 4 months or something like that). You will also have the option of taking payment for whatever they write up and then having it fixed on your own but this will mean that any new damage you find after the payment won't be covered. Still, if you are okay with a repair and they are willing to pay for a new one, this option may mean you get it fixed much, much faster.
Gregís is EXACTLY where I had been looking at. Love his site. In reference to just a repair, Iím not convinced the specialty places Iíve gone to are fiberglass experts despite my extensive research. K&M in Hickory would be doing a total replacement instead of a repair and from what Iíve read and seen itís worth it to send it 90 minutes north to have it done and sent back to me. This whole process as explained to me is 100% fully covered by insurance even though this definite overage for replacing the rear clam (in comparison to an original estimate I have of about 2500 for just a repair) will cost a pretty penny. I wouldnít even consider the thought if it wasnít.

Only plus side of this whole endeavor is that there are lots of rubs and rock chips that would be taken care of plus I am looking at covering a large area of the rear in a clear bra after the paint work is completed. Silver lining I suppose?
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 05:38 AM Thread Starter
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You absolutely do not need a new rear clam; they may try to total it if you do. It sounds absurd, but it happens. You also don't have to go with OE. You options like GRP's rear clam that have shorter lead times (I think mine was 4 months or something like that). You will also have the option of taking payment for whatever they write up and then having it fixed on your own but this will mean that any new damage you find after the payment won't be covered. Still, if you are okay with a repair and they are willing to pay for a new one, this option may mean you get it fixed much, much faster.
Forgot to add the car is a rebuilt title anyways so not sure you can ďtotalĒ the car a second time.
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 06:03 AM
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Forgot to add the car is a rebuilt title anyways so not sure you can ďtotalĒ the car a second time.
You can, and are more likely a second time - the cost of repair is the same but the value of the car is lower, leading to a greater chance of it being cheaper to write off than fix. Your car in the damaged condition could easily get $15k at an auction, and is probably valued new at around $23k. If your deductible is $1k, any repair over $7k costs more than writing it off.

The silver lining you refer to is also a double-edged sword. If a repair results in fixing pre-existing damage, insurance can actually charge you a "betterment". So if the repair costs $5k and fixes $2k of other unrelated damage, they may only pay your shop $3k and you have to come up with the difference yourself (or through the grace of the shop).

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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 01:43 PM Thread Starter
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Forgot to add the car is a rebuilt title anyways so not sure you can “total” the car a second time.
You can, and are more likely a second time - the cost of repair is the same but the value of the car is lower, leading to a greater chance of it being cheaper to write off than fix. Your car in the damaged condition could easily get $15k at an auction, and is probably valued new at around $23k. If your deductible is $1k, any repair over $7k costs more than writing it off.

The silver lining you refer to is also a double-edged sword. If a repair results in fixing pre-existing damage, insurance can actually charge you a "betterment". So if the repair costs $5k and fixes $2k of other unrelated damage, they may only pay your shop $3k and you have to come up with the difference yourself (or through the grace of the shop).
I mean yes, you can technically total the vehicle over and over again you’re right but that would very much be overkill in this situation. Despite the combination of the damage being very minor with the other end of it being an entire rear clam replacement being very expensive I don’t see it being even remotely close to that situation. The pre-existing damage you’re getting really isn’t damage at all, it’s very minor imprecations at worst that only I notice because of how particular I am. Absolutely nothing to write home about or to ever even contemplate anything along the lines of an individual insurance claim as far as that’s concerned. You make a valid point though overall. Good insight.
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 09:40 PM
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I don’t know if it helps, but I own the Elise that Caliber Collision Luxury in Charlotte repaired. My Elise is a 2008 California Edition in Solar Yellow. My local Caliber Collision in Greenvile SC handled the paper work, but shipped the car to Charlotte for repair. I’m happy with the repair including the paint match. PM me if you have any questions.

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post #16 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-22-2019, 07:38 AM Thread Starter
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I don¬’t know if it helps, but I own the Elise that Caliber Collision Luxury in Charlotte repaired. My Elise is a 2008 California Edition in Solar Yellow. My local Caliber Collision in Greenvile SC handled the paper work, but shipped the car to Charlotte for repair. I¬’m happy with the repair including the paint match. PM me if you have any questions.
What’re the odds of you seeing this post! Did it really take 9 months to source your rear clam shell from Lotus?
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post #17 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-22-2019, 07:58 AM
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that would very much be overkill in this situation.
Getting a new clam is overkill, and getting a new clam is well documented to be enough to total a full price car. Looking at the timing and hassle, you really need to aim for just a repair and repaint, if a repair is even needed at all. Since the title is already branded, having the repair won't hurt your future value any either.

I've been around the block more than a few times with this topic. Heck, my car has spent a greater fraction of my ownership in the shop than on the road: https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f25...etimes-185098/

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post #18 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-23-2019, 08:10 AM
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This is a long story ... here it goes:

I was sitting at a traffic signal, and car behind me bumped my rear end. There were only two small star-burst cracks in the rear so I thought that they would be easy to repair. Took the car to several repair shops, including the local Lotus dealer and Caliber Collision for estimates. I go legitimate estimates from everyone except the service manager of the local dealer. He send me an eMail with some numbers on it that no insurance company would accept as an estimate. I called several times, but the service manager wouldn't answer the phone or he wasn't available or he failed to return my call.

Thus, I went with Caliber, and they began disassembly. I very glad that they chose to remove the rear clam for the repair as they found a lot more damage than anyone expected: the trunk compartment had delaminated from the clam, clam mounting points had been compromised, etc. Thus, a new clam was was in order. Unfortunately, the Caliber Collision chose to order the new clam through the local dealer. Time passed and about every two weeks, I would make a call to Caliber and be told that the dealer says the clam was on back order. I talked with the parts guy at the dealer (unlike the service manager, he would take my call), and he told me that they had two rear clams on back order. After several months of follow-up with Caliber and the dealer parts guy, I found a telephone number for the Lotus parts operation in the U.S. He checked his computer and told me, "Sir, we don't have any clams on order from that dealer." Caliber confronted the local dealer with this, and the dealer claimed that the parts guys was new and made a mistake in the ordering process. Once the order really got placed, the rear clam really was on back order. Thus, a few more months added to the process. My suspension is that since the local dealer gave me a "quote", they were hoping that I'd get tired of waiting and have them repair the clam.

The saga took over a year to get the repair completed, but fortunately the car was drivable during that time. (I even took a road trip to Southern Illinois in which I ran into snow and ice.) Again, I'm happy with the work that Caliber did. However, I try to avoid any dealing with the local dealer.

I see that some members are pressuring you to have the damage repaired rather than getting a new clam. Recognizing the free advice is worth exactly what you pay for it, I'd advise you to be sure that there is no damage other than what's visible on the surface.

Here's the rear after the repair:
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The Old Guy -- 2008 Lotus Elise California / Solar Yellow
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post #19 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 07:52 AM Thread Starter
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This is a long story ... here it goes:

I was sitting at a traffic signal, and car behind me bumped my rear end. There were only two small star-burst cracks in the rear so I thought that they would be easy to repair. Took the car to several repair shops, including the local Lotus dealer and Caliber Collision for estimates. I go legitimate estimates from everyone except the service manager of the local dealer. He send me an eMail with some numbers on it that no insurance company would accept as an estimate. I called several times, but the service manager wouldn't answer the phone or he wasn't available or he failed to return my call.

Thus, I went with Caliber, and they began disassembly. I very glad that they chose to remove the rear clam for the repair as they found a lot more damage than anyone expected: the trunk compartment had delaminated from the clam, clam mounting points had been compromised, etc. Thus, a new clam was was in order. Unfortunately, the Caliber Collision chose to order the new clam through the local dealer. Time passed and about every two weeks, I would make a call to Caliber and be told that the dealer says the clam was on back order. I talked with the parts guy at the dealer (unlike the service manager, he would take my call), and he told me that they had two rear clams on back order. After several months of follow-up with Caliber and the dealer parts guy, I found a telephone number for the Lotus parts operation in the U.S. He checked his computer and told me, "Sir, we don't have any clams on order from that dealer." Caliber confronted the local dealer with this, and the dealer claimed that the parts guys was new and made a mistake in the ordering process. Once the order really got placed, the rear clam really was on back order. Thus, a few more months added to the process. My suspension is that since the local dealer gave me a "quote", they were hoping that I'd get tired of waiting and have them repair the clam.

The saga took over a year to get the repair completed, but fortunately the car was drivable during that time. (I even took a road trip to Southern Illinois in which I ran into snow and ice.) Again, I'm happy with the work that Caliber did. However, I try to avoid any dealing with the local dealer.

I see that some members are pressuring you to have the damage repaired rather than getting a new clam. Recognizing the free advice is worth exactly what you pay for it, I'd advise you to be sure that there is no damage other than what's visible on the surface.

Here's the rear after the repair:
Absolutely wild story. Appreciate the input also, I only saw your rear end after the repair so I’m not sure how bad your damage was but I’m willing to bet mine isn’t as bad based on what you described. Regardless I’m simply not satisfied with the numerous supposedly quality repairs shops with what they’re telling me and quoting me. Again really glad you commented very helpful.

Would love to meet up for a drive sometime, only thing better than 1 brightly colored billboard for police is 2! 😂
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