Definitions

Adjuster (same as Claims Adjuster) – A person employed by an insurance company that investigates and settles claims. An adjuster evaluates each claim brought by policyholders or claimants and then recommends payment based on the coverage available under the insurance policy.

Aftermarket Parts (same as Copy, Imitation and Non-OEM Parts) – New replacement parts that were not produced or supplied by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Aftermarket collision parts may offer a price-based alternative but may not provide the same fit, finish and structural strength, and may not perform to the OEM’s exacting specifications. Only original equipment parts, supplied by the vehicle manufacturer, are backed by the vehicle manufacturer’s warranty. Aftermarket parts are often referred to on your estimate with these names or abbreviations:

A/M (Aftermarket / Automotive replacement parts)
A/M CAPA
AQRP
QRP (Quality Replacement Parts)
CP (Competitive Parts)

Airbag – Part of a vehicle safety system that consists of a bag that inflates during a crash. Its purpose is to slow an occupant’s motion as evenly as possible while preventing impact with the interior of the vehicle. Today’s advanced airbags are highly precise devices, capable of incremental inflation based on the severity of the crash as well as size and position of the vehicle’s occupant. They are supplemental restraints and work best in combination with seatbelts.

Alternates – Most vehicle colors today have more than one version depending on when and where the vehicle was painted by the manufacturer.  These are called alternates.  Different versions are due to slight variations in the mixing process from factory to factory. Most paint systems today give shops a choice of alternates to choose from for the best color match possible.

Alternative Parts – A term commonly used to refer to something other than Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts.

Aluminum – A metal which is increasingly used in the production of modern vehicles because of its lightness and abundance.  In pure form, it does not have the strength of the same size of iron.  Thus car manufacturers use aluminum in an alloy form to produce body panels, wheels, engine blocks, transmission housings, differential housings, and even frames.  Aluminum requires specific tools and training in order to repair properly.

Appraisal – A written estimation of the value of property or the extent of damage. Damage appraisals may be completed by an insurance adjuster, vehicle repair specialist, or body shop estimator.

Base Coat / Clear Coat System – A paint system in which the color effect is provided by a highly pigmented base coat. Gloss and durability are provided by a subsequent clear coat. Most vehicles are finished in this manner.

Betterment – A tool that insurance companies use to avoid paying for the complete amount of a part damaged in a collision. Basically, if a repair or replacement is needed to a “wear-and-tear” part of your vehicle, the insurance company will only pay a percentage of the cost of that replacement part. From their point of view, they are only responsible for returning your vehicle to the condition that it was in prior to the accident, and since you are getting a brand-new part, your vehicle will actually be in better condition after the repairs are completed. Therefore, the insurance company shouldn’t be on the hook for the entire amount. This charge is most often applied to tires, but can also be applied to other wearable parts such as a battery or exhaust.

Blending – The tapering of finishes or colors so slight differences cannot be distinguished; merging one color into another. This is achieved by allowing some of the old finish to show through the new color.  Often times the undamaged panels adjacent to the repaired areas will be blended.  While there is no such thing as the “perfect” match, blending will help provide the appearance of a perfect match.

Body Putty – A paste-like material used for filling small imperfections on a vehicle surface.

Body Filler – A paste-like material ordinarily mixed with a catalyst material used to fill large imperfections on a vehicle surface.

Buffing – A mechanical process meant to restore luster and appearance to your car’s finish. The process can remove a minute layer of paint to access a fresh layer underneath. Used with the proper compound, buffing can remove scratches and other minor scrapes in your clear coat. It also helps maintain your finish longer.

Bumper Absorber – On all late-model vehicles, the energy-absorbing, foam-like material that is situated between the outside bumper fascia and the inner bumper reinforcement on both the front and rear of a vehicle. Also see Bumper Fascia and Bumper Reinforcement.

Bumper Fascia (FAY-sha) – On all late-model cars, the fascia is that part of a bumper that is visible on the outside of the vehicle, is painted—usually the same color as the body—and serves as a large portion of either the front or back of the vehicle. Also see Bumper Absorber and Bumper Reinforcement.

Bumper Reinforcement – On all late-model cars, the bumper reinforcement is that part of the bumper that secures the outer bumper fascia and energy absorber to the vehicle’s body rails, securing the bumper sub-assembly to the vehicle, front and rear.

Chip Guard (same as Rock Guard) – A chip-resistant, protective coating normally applied to lower panels to help prevent sharp stones, debris, etc., from chipping the paint finish.

Chipping – The removal of paint from a vehicle body surface by means of impact of sharp stones, etc. This usually happens on the leading edge of a vehicle body, like on the front edge of a hood, or near the rear edge of a wheel opening.

Claim – Any request or demand for payment under the terms of the insurance policy to cover an incurred loss.

Clear or Clear Coat – A coat of clear material (basically paint without the color pigment) applied on top of a color coat as a means of protecting the finish, and adding luster and durability. Usually the color coat and clear coat are applied as a system in a repair to ensure color and luster continuity across the entire vehicle surface.

Collision Insurance – Optional coverage for when your car is damaged by a collision with another vehicle or object. Examples of this include a collision with a tree, trashcan, or garage door. Collision Insurance may also provide coverage if a car rolls over or if you hit a pothole that severely damages your car. This insurance applies only to your car and doesn’t cover whatever the car collided with, which is covered by property damage liability insurance. It pays for damage to your car (up to the actual cash value of your vehicle, minus your deductible) without regard to who caused an accident.

Competitive Estimate or Competitive Bid – The act of acquiring more than one bid for collision repair work. No law requires a consumer to seek more than one bid for collision repair. However, your insurance company may request a competitive bid, especially if you secure a bid from a shop that does not subscribe to that insurance company’s Direct Repair Program. Additionally, if you are paying for the work yourself and are unfamiliar with shops in your area, you may want to seek competitive bids, as collision estimates can vary considerably. When securing competitive bids, be sure to review what each estimate includes (or does not include) regarding labor operations and type of parts used.

Comprehensive Insurance – Optional coverage for when your car is stolen or damaged in ways that don’t involve a collision. Examples include: fire, theft, hail, glass breakage, vandalism, damage from an animal, flood, earthquakes, riot, and civil commotion.

Corrosion – Degradation of the bare, unprotected metal substrate by oxidation, commonly referred to as rusting. This process is worsened by the introduction of water and salt, which is commonly found on roads in snow-belt areas of the U.S. All automotive metal surfaces should be protected from corrosion by some sort of coating.

Coverage – Protection and benefits provided in an insurance policy.

Crush Zone (same as Crumple Zone) – Structural feature of a specific part designed to absorb the energy from an impact after a collision by controlled deformation in order to protect vehicle occupants.  Parts with damage to crush zone areas must be replaced.

Cycle Time – Industry term meaning the total time from the beginning to the end of the vehicle repair process.  Most insurance companies try to control and limit cycle time to save rental expenses and increase customer satisfaction.  Sometimes pushing cycle time too hard can result in rushed work and poor quality.

Damage – Loss or harm to a person or property.

Deductible – The amount of costs you pay after an accident. Once you’ve paid the deductible, the insurance company pays the rest of the costs, up to the amount specified in your policy. A high deductible generally results in a lower premium, while a low deductible results in a higher premium for the same insurance coverage.

Degreasing – The removal from the substrate (vehicle’s sheet metal parts) of contaminants that would otherwise create various paint failures.

Depreciation – The decrease in value of any property due to wear, tear and/or time. Depreciation is generally not an insurable loss.

Detailing – Final cleaning both inside and outside of vehicle, removal of overspray from exterior panels, jambs, etc., as well as polishing prior to delivery of a collision-repaired vehicle.  Detailing can also include a higher level of cleaning, such as buffing and waxing, to diminish or remove stains, scratches, and other blemishes both inside and out.

DRP (Direct Repair Program) – A common practice in the collision repair industry whereby an insurance company and a collision repair shop have a contractual agreement that establishes business rules, repair parameters, and standardized procedures such as billing practices and record keeping. An advantage of DRPs is that they may provide additional convenience for the insured due to their relationship with the insurance company. A primary disadvantage is that many insurance companies require that their DRPs use a percentage of imitation parts in collision repairs. This may not be in the customer’s best interest. In the vast majority of states, you have the right to have your vehicle repaired at a shop of your own choosing.

Direct Repair Shop – An insurer-suggested or -preferred collision repair shop that participates in a Direct Repair Program (DRP) with that insurance company.

Drying – The process of change of an automotive coating from a liquid to a solid state by evaporation of solvent, evaporation of water (as in water-borne paint systems), chemical reaction of the binding medium, or a combination of these processes.

Edge-to-Edge Repair – A term denoting a complete panel repair (such as a complete fender or door) as opposed to a touch-up or spot repair.

Estimate – The written estimation, made by an appraiser or estimator, upon inspection of a damaged vehicle, regarding the cost required to restore the vehicle to the condition it was in immediately prior to the loss. There are sometimes hidden damages that are not visible until the vehicle is disassembled. Additional repairs needed to complete the repair are documented in what is called a supplement. Insurance companies expect this to occur and have in place billing guidelines to handle this type of situation.

Flex Additive – A chemical added to automotive refinish paint that makes the paint flexible enough to adhere to flexible vehicle parts such as bumper covers.

Four Wheel Alignment (4WA) – Process of adjusting the angles of your vehicle’s wheels so they are set to the manufacturer’s specifications.  These measurable angles are called camber, caster, and toe.  The purpose is to reduce tire wear and ensure that the vehicle tracks and drives straight.

Frame Bench – A heavy metal platform used to restore a vehicle’s structural geometry to factory specifications. This is done by securing a portion of the vehicle to the platform, then pulling appropriate areas of the vehicle into place using special clamps, chains, and hydraulic winches. This is also referred to as a Frame Machine, Frame Rack, or simply Rack.

Full Frame Vehicle (same as Body-On-Frame) – A vehicle, mostly pickup trucks or some larger SUVs, where the structural frame or chassis is completely separate from the body, unlike a vehicle with a unibody design.

Gloss – The degree to which a painted surface possesses the property of reflecting light in a mirror-like manner. May also be referred to as luster.

Hazardous Waste – Any unusable by-product derived from the repair and/or painting process that cannot be disposed of through normal waste disposal. These products can be potentially harmful to the environment and require special handling as well as professional disposal. Federal, state, and local laws dictate how such material must be handled and disposed of.

Hit and Run – An accident caused by someone who does not stop to assist or provide information. Damages to your vehicle caused by a hit and run driver are often covered as part of uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance.

I-CAR – I-CAR,  the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair, is an international not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the information, knowledge, skills, and training required to perform complete, safe, and quality repairs.  I-CAR was formed in 1979 out of a collaboration across the six segments of the collision repair Inter-Industry.  I-CAR serves and is represented by all segments of the Inter-Industry:

Collision repair
Insurance
Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs)
Education, training, and research
Tools, equipment, and supply
Related industry services
I-CAR’s focus is to provide everyone involved in collision repair with access to high-quality, industry-recognized training solutions. I-CAR also encourages and supports ongoing conversations in the industry on issues that impact collision repair.

Insurance – Insurance is a system in which groups of people (such as automobile owners) who have similar chances of suffering a loss transfer their risk of loss to an insurer who pools the risk of many drivers together. The insurance company promises to reimburse the person for their covered losses in exchange for payment of the premium.

Insured – A person or organization who has or is covered by an insurance policy.

Liability – Legal responsibility or obligation for the injury or damage suffered by another person.

Liability Insurance – In most states, you are legally required to have a minimum of liability insurance, which is intended to restore the other driver, passengers, and vehicle to their pre-accident condition.

Loss – The amount an insurance company pays on a claim.

Masking (same as Cover Car) – Temporary covering of areas on the vehicle that are not to be painted to prevent overspray.

Metallic – A term used for automotive finishes incorporating fine metallic particles, usually aluminum, in the paint to produce a somewhat sparkling effect.

Mount and Balance (M&B) – Mounting and balancing involves your vehicle’s wheels and tires.  Mounting is simply the act of putting the tires on the wheels and then installing the wheels onto the vehicle’s axles.  Balancing is done to find potential heavy spots that could cause vibration when the wheels and tires are spinning. Balancing is done by placing an assembled wheel and tire onto a balancing machine and running it through a series of diagnostic tests. The machine identifies where the tire and wheel assembly is out of balance, and then the technician corrects any imbalances by applying small weights to the rim at specific locations, in order to even out the distribution of weight.

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Parts / Original Equipment (OE) Parts – Referred to as Original Equipment Manufacturer collision replacement parts, Original Equipment collision parts, or simply OE parts, these parts are designed by your vehicle manufacturer and are produced to the same specifications and tolerances as the parts on the vehicle when it was manufactured. These parts meet stringent requirements for fit, finish, structural integrity, corrosion protection and dent resistance. They are the only parts proven during vehicle development to deliver the intended level of protection as a whole system.

Overspray – Excess paint and material that spreads or blows beyond the intended area being sprayed.

Paint Failure / Cracking – This type of paint failure is typified by cracks in the painted surface, not unlike the cracks seen at the bottom of a dried mud puddle.

Paint Failure / Fading – This type of paint failure is typified by severe fade, and can occur in any color but is more pronounced in reds, where the color may fade from red to pink or red to orange.

Paint Failure / Hazing – This type of paint failure occurs when a haze or fog-like substance surrounds a repaired area.

Paint Failure / Peeling – This type of paint failure is typified by paint peeling off the surface of the vehicle, indicating a sever loss of adhesion. This could be caused by any number of problems, not the least of which is improper preparation of the surface to be painted, or a mismatch of paint and primer.

Paint Failure / Chalking – This type of paint failure is typified by a white material coming through the painted surface.

Paint Failure / Fish-Eye – This type of paint failure is indicated by a spot in the paint in the repaired area that resembles a fish eye. This is caused by contaminants on the vehicle’s surface.

Paintless Dent Repair (PDR) – A means of pulling a minor dent from a body panel that will not damage the paint and thus remove the need for post-repair refinishing.

Pigment – The coloring material in paint.

Pre-Accident Condition (also Pre-Loss condition) – The condition of the vehicle immediately before it was damaged. As this relates to automobile repair, it is restoring the vehicle to the condition it was in moments before the accident. This includes the restoration of:

a) the function of the vehicle and all its systems;

b) safety, including the ability of the vehicle to withstand a subsequent impact and absorb that impact, and protect the occupants as designed by the manufacturer in the same manner as an undamaged vehicle;

c) appearance of the vehicle

Prep – The process of washing, degreasing and lightly abrading a panel prior to applying paint.

Pre-treatment (metal) – The chemical treatment of an unpainted metal surface prior to painting to promote adhesion and corrosion resistance.

Primer – The first layer of a paint normally applied to an unpainted surface. It is designed to protect the substrate (bare metal) and promote adhesion of the topcoat.

Primer-Sealer – An undercoat that improves the adhesion of the topcoat, and which seals old painted surfaces to prevent bleed-through.

Primer / surface, Primer / filler – A pigmented material, sprayed onto a vehicle, which acts as a primer and also has “filling” properties which will fill small imperfections in the surface. After sanding of the primer/surface, a topcoat of paint will be applied.

Property Damage Liability – Pays for damage to the other driver’s vehicle to the limit of your policy. This is distinct from and in addition to per-person bodily injury liability and bodily injury liability for all persons injured in an accident.

Remove and Install (R&I) – Refers to a part removed from a damaged vehicle to be saved and reinstalled after the repair has been completed. In many cases, to repair damage to the outside of a vehicle, interior trim, seating, etc. must be removed to make a proper repair.

Remove and Replace (R&R) – Refers to a part removed from a damaged vehicle that cannot be acceptably repaired and must be replaced.

Rebuilt Part – A used OE or aftermarket part in which only those components that may be broken or unusable are replaced.

Reconditioned Collision Parts – In the collision repair world, reconditioned or refurbished collision parts generally means parts removed from an existing vehicle that are repaired and/or refinished, such as bumper covers, wheels, or lamps.

Remanufactured Mechanical Parts – Remanufactured generally means parts removed from an existing vehicle that are repaired and/or refinished. Generally speaking, parts remanufactured by the OE manufacturers (vehicle maker) begin with a used part that is completely disassembled, inspected, diagnosed and cleaned, while any worn or inoperative parts are replaced. The part is reassembled and tested to ensure the part meets the same specifications as the original part. Remanufactured mechanical parts are produced by OEs and non-OE remanufacturers.

Repair Authorization – The point at which a consumer authorizes the repair to his or her vehicle (and in some cases contingent upon the insurance company settlement process).

Replacement Cost – The cost to repair or replace an insured item at the present time, according to its current worth.

Repair Order (RO) – Refers to the document that will be used by the body shop to keep track of the time spent, expendable materials consumed (such as paints, etc.), and parts used to repair a collision-damaged vehicle. Also called a Work Order.

Rubbing Compound – An abrasive paste that smoothes and polishes paint films. This is also commonly known as polishing compound.

Sanding – An abrasive process used to level a coated surface prior to the application of a subsequent further coat.

Salvage Parts – Refers to parts salvaged from a vehicle, often from one that was deemed a total loss. Quality concerns may exist with salvaged parts because the source, condition and durability of the parts are not known. In some cases, the part could be a salvaged aftermarket part. This category commonly includes large body assemblies, such as complete bumper assemblies, doors, or complete front ends, severed from the original vehicle from the windshield forward.

Salvage parts are often referred to on your estimate with these names or abbreviations:

Salvage
Used
Recy (Recycled)
LKQ (Like Kind and Quality)

Note: The industry term “LKQ” is not to be confused with a company by the same name that offers recycled and aftermarket parts.

Sealer – An undercoat that improves the adhesion of the topcoat, and seals old painted surfaces to prevent bleed-through.

Seam Sealer – A chemical coating composition used to prevent corrosion as well as seal air and water leaks where sheet metal panels overlap by design.  Such overlaps are typically decorative and not structurally supportive.  They are usually only spot-welded and this process results in a closure that is not air or water tight so seam sealer is applied.

Sectioning – Cutting and removing only the damaged portion of a unibody structure after initial straightening and aligning, and replacing that area with a new OEM part or a properly inspected salvage component of similar type and design at the manufacturer’s recommended seams.

Select Repair Shop – Collision repair shops that participate in one or more insurance company Direct Repair Programs (DRP). Vehicle owners have the right to choose a body shop whether it is part of a DRP or not.

Solid Color – A coating that contains only colored pigments, as opposed to a coating that contains small metallic flakes to create metallic paints.

Solvent – A liquid, usually volatile, that is used to reduce paint or primer viscosity. Solvents evaporate during application and drying of paint and therefore do not become a part of the dried film.

Steering – Any attempt by an insurer to get the consumer to take their vehicle to a shop not of their own choosing. Steering is illegal in most states. Vehicle owners have the right to have their vehicle repaired at a shop of their choosing.

Subrogation – Refers to circumstances (such as when another party is responsible for an accident) in which your insurance company has paid expenses for medical and vehicle repair and then tries to recoup the expenses it paid from the other party or their insurance company.

Substrate – The uncoated/unpainted body panel surface.

Supplement – Additional repairs needed to complete the repair that were not identified on the original estimate. It is often impossible to identify all damage to a vehicle until it’s disassembled.

Surcharge – An increase in your auto insurance premium due to an at-fault accident or a moving violation.

Tack Rag – A specially treated cloth used to wipe a surface just prior to painting to remove any dust or contaminates that may inhibit paint adhesion or cause imperfections in the paint.

Thinner – A blend of solvents added to paint to reduce it to the correct consistency for application.

Three-Stage Color / Tri-Stage Paint – A topcoat color that consists of three parts—a base coat, a mid coat and a clear coat. This is also referred to as a tri-coat. This paint is known to be the most difficult to match precisely and is also the most expensive. Special blending and tinting is usually required.

Tint and Blend – The process of mixing toners to match the existing paint finish, then blending or overlapping the color into the adjacent panel to avoid color match problems.

Topcoat – The final layers of paint whose role is primarily decorative. However, the topcoat often provides protection against ultra-violet light present in sunlight.

Total Loss – A vehicle is considered a total loss when the collision, fire or water damage is so extensive that repair costs would exceed the value of the vehicle. Depending on the state in which the vehicle is insured, a total loss may be defined differently. For example, in some states a total loss may be equal to the vehicle’s actual cash value (ACV), while in other states a total loss may be a percentage of the vehicle’s ACV—usually about 75%. This will also depend on the model year of the vehicle.

Generally speaking, if the repair cost is anywhere near the vehicle’s ACV, the insurance company may total the vehicle because subsequent supplemental repair claims encountered during the repair process could easily push the repair cost beyond the ACV amount. In most cases, the older the vehicle, the more easily it will total-out in the event of a crash.

Touch-up – A localized partial-repair method usually confined to the smallest area possible (for example, filling in small stone chips to an exterior panel), often completed with small touch-up sticks or specialized brushes.

Ultra-Violet Light – That portion of the light spectrum that is largely responsible for the degradation of paint.

Undercoating – An additional layer of protection and insulation applied to the undercarriage of a vehicle. Manufacturers may apply undercoating at the factory. It covers most of the car’s underside, including floor boards, pans, gas tank, wheel wells, frame and suspension parts, mufflers, and exhaust pipes. Undercoating materials adhere to metal, even if painted. Most come in pressurized cans for easy spray-on application, although an even spread may be tough to achieve without professional applicators. Ingredients used in manufacturing include fiberglass, rubber, ceramics, silicone and asphalt, or petroleum. Each has different properties in terms of heat retention and resistance, but all do offer protection against the elements and damage.

Unibody – A type of vehicle body construction in which the outer skin, roof, and floor are formed and assembled to produce a single unit providing structural strength and rigidity. This concept was introduced in the 1920’s but was not widely used in mass-produced automobiles until the late 1970’s. Prior to this time, vehicle bodies were built and bolted to separate steel chassis. Conventional pickup trucks are still built in this manner.

Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage – Pays (up to the coverage limit) for injuries to you and other passengers in your vehicle and property damage caused by a hit-and-run driver or a motorist without liability insurance. It will also pay when your medical and vehicle repair bills are higher than the other driver´s liability coverage.

VIN – This is an acronym for Vehicle Identification Number, a number unique for every single vehicle produced. It serves to not only identify a specific vehicle but also contains coded information relative to such things as the vehicle’s country of origin, manufacturing plant, trim code, drive train, and interior and exterior color, just to name a few. This number helps the body shop order the correct replacement parts and the correct paint color for each car. Any professional estimate or repair order will include this number.

Warranty – The limited written warranty issued to the purchaser of the vehicle by the manufacturer.

Your vehicle manufacturer’s Original Equipment collision replacement parts are the only service replacement parts warranted by your vehicle manufacturer. New aftermarket, salvage, or reconditioned parts used for collision repair may not be warranted by your vehicle manufacturer. Damage to your vehicle or its parts caused by the failure of new aftermarket, salvage or reconditioned parts may not be covered by your vehicle manufacturer’s new-vehicle warranty.

Waterborne Paint – Waterborne paint has become the new standard in automotive refinishing.  Waterborne paints have been evaluated as alternatives to solvent-based paints.  The volatile organic compound (VOC) content of waterborne paints is significantly lower than conventional solvent-based paints, thereby reducing VOC emissions.  Waterborne (or latex) paints are composed of synthetic resins and pigments that are kept dispersed in water by surfactants.  They also contain small amounts of coalescing solvents.  Waterborne paints dry by evaporation of the water.  The coalescing solvents allow the resin particles to fuse together (coalesce) as the water evaporates to form a continuous coating.  Waterborne paints reduce VOC emissions and worker exposure to hazardous air pollutants.  These paints can also reduce the amount of hazardous waste generated, depending on the type of paint used.