Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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The lowdown...

  • A car insurance inspector is responsible for inspecting damaged vehicles after an auto insurance claim is filed
  • After a claim is filed, the claims adjuster will contact an inspector so a reasonable repair cost is determined
  • Inspectors, who are also called estimators, will walk around the vehicle and take photos of every panel of the car
  • All damage pictures taken by the inspector will be uploaded to the adjuster for review so costs can be estimated
  • You should bring your license, claim number, title, registration, and accident photos to your appointment

Any seasoned car buyer who is shopping for a pre-owned vehicle knows how important it is to do a thorough inspection of the merchandise before making an offer.

As a consumer who’s buying a big-ticket item, it’s your duty to spot serious hidden issues with the car or obvious signs of damage so that you can dodge a bad decision before you make it.

Make sure you have good car insurance in place to protect your vehicle. Enter your zip code above to compare car insurance rates.

A good inspection can really make the difference in your decision making.

You can do your own car inspection when buying a car as long as you know what to look for. After you have an accident and you file a claim for your damages, you’ll need an expert to inspect your car to look for damage and then value the property.

If you’re not sure how the inspection process works, here’s what you need to know:

Reporting Your Auto Insurance Accident

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The first step in the claims process would be reporting your claim. You can call your personal agent or the claims department to file your claim.

When you’re reporting the loss, the specialist that you speak with will ask you for basic information like:

  • Date and time of loss
  • Location and road conditions
  • Name and contact information of other vehicles involved
  • Vehicle make, model, and insurance information
  • Explanation of the events leading up to the loss
  • Witness names and phone numbers
  • Police report number
  • Types of damage being reported
  • Injuries

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What Your Claims Adjuster Does

Your claims number and file is recorded after your report your loss. An adjuster is also assigned to your case to start the investigations process.

It’s the claims adjuster who will guide you through the multi-step process so that you can reach a settlement that both you and the insurance company agree on.

Adjusters can’t handle absolutely everything but they are in charge of making appointments when they need other specialists to complete tasks.

They will schedule inspection appointments, review inspection photos, speak with other adjusters, and estimate the value and repair costs of the vehicle. At the end of it all, the last step will be for the adjuster to send you a settlement offer.

Where will your inspection take place?

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After the report is filed and assigned, the first step is for the adjuster to send an inspector out to the vehicle to get the ball rolling.

Most adjusters don’t actually do the inspections on their own even though it’s common for people to label inspectors as adjusters. It’s just a term that’s often thrown around in the industry.

When an inspection appointment is made with the claimant, the policyholder is free to choose where they want the inspection to be completed.

The inspector may not be employed by the insurer but they are representing the carrier as the inspection is being done. Inspectors are trained to spot new and old damage. Sometimes, they are employed through a partner repair shop.

If your vehicle is operable, you can make your appointment anywhere that’s convenient for you. You could meet at your home or your work address.

If the car isn’t running, you’ll have to send the inspector wherever the car was towed after the accident. Let your adjuster know what time and day work for you and they will do the scheduling.

What Inspectors Are Looking For

Inspectors are looking for obvious signs of damage and hidden damage that you might not know to look for.

While repair shops will inspect the car and price the estimated cost of repair, the company needs their own inspection to be done to ensure that the costs aren’t being inflated. Having partner repair shops helps the insurer save money.

Inspectors are looking for all types of different things during the inspection appointment. Not only do these specialists spot damage, they also look for signs of insurance fraud so that fraudulent and inflated claims aren’t paid out.

Here are some of the things that an inspector is looking for:

  • Signs of pre-existing damage that needs to be excluded from the claim
  • Damage that matches the accident description
  • Damage sustained to each panel of your vehicle
  • License plate number
  • VIN number
  • Odometer reading

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Inspectors Can’t Spot it All

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An inspector doesn’t actually draft up an estimate of how much your repairs will cost because they are limited in what they can look for.

They are trained to look for obvious physical damage and not the hidden damage that is located under the exterior panels. Your frame, mechanical parts, and undercarriage could all be damaged and it won’t show the damage in your inspection report.

If there’s hidden damage to the frame of your car or parts, your adjuster will have to factor that in once the body shop drafts its own estimate.

You need the repair shop estimates for your adjuster before it can be decided if the car is a total loss or not. Extra hidden damage can certainly increase the likelihood that your car will be totaled.

What is a total loss?

Your adjuster will only order repairs to be made to your car if the repairs costs are lower than the Actual Cash Value of the car. By law, your insurance contract only says the insurer is on the line for paying the ACV.

When damages exceed this number, which is calculated by the adjuster, the claim is a total loss claim.

Make sure that you’re prepared when you’re meeting an inspector. Always bring your ID for proof of your identity. Don’t forget your registration, insurance card, and claim number as well.

If you have receipts and photos of the car, this can help as well. If you’re not happy with the way that your claim was handled, start getting instant online quotes and you can switch carriers. Enter your zip code below to compare quotes today.