Collision Glossary

We know the hours and days after an accident can sometimes be filled with confusing terms and phrases. We’ve compiled a list of the most frequently used terms to help you get the most out of your coverage and get your vehicle repaired and safely back on the road.

Act of God

Any natural event beyond human control, or influence, including acts of nature like hurricanes, earthquakes and floods. This is usually covered under comprehensive insurance and is not covered by liability and collision insurance. You may want to reach out to your provider and make sure any original parts coverage includes Acts of God.

Actual Cash Value

This is the value of the vehicle at the time it was damaged, stolen or destroyed. It is the cost most insurance companies cover. After a loss, your insurance provider will review the condition of your car's body, interior, tires and additional equipment. Based on the pre-accident condition of the car, a claims adjuster locates similar models for sale by private parties and car dealers in your area, and uses those prices to determine the Actual Cash Value. Make sure this price is determined and agreed to before you release your vehicle to a body shop, and before any repairs are made.

Also see Gap Insurance.

Additional Insured or Additional Interest

A person or entity (such as a leasing company), other than the named insured, who is protected under the auto policy. If a vehicle is leased, the leasing company may want to be listed as an Additional Insured as well as a lien holder or loss payee. This protects the leasing company if it's named in a lawsuit for an accident caused by a policyholder.

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. Make sure you have an adjuster evaluate your vehicle before any repairs are made to your vehicle.

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

  • QRP -- Quality Replacement Parts

  • CP -- Competitive Parts

  • LKQ -- Like Kind and Quality

Make sure you take a good look at your estimate and watch out for these parts before you sign anything.

Agreed Value

A policy available for collectible, custom or antique vehicles that do not depreciate in value as the average car does. When your policy is written, you and your insurance company come to an"agreed-value" of what will be paid out in the event of a total loss instead of actual cash value.

Alternative Parts

A term commonly used to refer to something other than Original Equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. Here are some common names for Alternative Parts:

  • A/M -- Aftermarket / Automotive replacement parts

  • QRP -- Quality Replacement Parts

  • CP -- Competitive Parts

  • LKQ -- Like Kind and Quality

  • Salvage

  • Recycled

  • Remanufactured

  • Reconditioned

  • Counterfeit

Amendment

A change to the basic policy contract. Ask your insurance provider if there are any available amendments to your current policy that include OEM parts coverage, otherwise, you may need a different policy.

Appraisal

A written estimation of the value of property, or the extent of damage. An insurance adjuster, vehicle repair specialist or body shop estimator may complete damage appraisals. Make sure you agree to the estimate before any repairs are made.

At-Fault

The party that is legally liable for the damages in an accident. Regardless if you are the at-fault party or not, you can still insist on OEM parts and should make sure OEM parts are included in your policy.

Binder

A temporary agreement that provides proof of coverage until you receive a permanent policy.

Blueprinting

Production of a highly detailed statement of work needed to properly and completely repair a collision-damaged vehicle, including all labor, operations, parts, paint and other materials. A blueprint is generally written during and after a car is completely torn-down to determine the full extent of damage, including any damage that may have been hidden when the original estimate was written. Make sure you agree to, and understand everything in the blueprint before signing off on the repair work.

Bodily Injury Liability

Insurance coverage that pays for the medical expenses of the other driver and passengers, up to the limit of your policy. This coverage may also pay for pain and suffering, lost wages, rehabilitation, legal expenses and funeral expenses.

Bumper Absorber

On all late-model vehicles, the bumper absorber is 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. The bumper absorber material is an important component to a vehicle's system communications to the airbag, or other safety components, so it is important to replace an absorber with an original part made to work with your vehicle. Also see Bumper Fascia and Bumper Reinforcement.

Bumper Fascia (FAY-sha)

On all late-model cars, it is the visible part of the front and back bumper. It is painted, usually the same color as the body of the vehicle. The fascia is an important component to a vehicle's system communications to the airbag, or other safety components, so it is important to replace an absorber with an original part made to work with your vehicle. Also see Bumper Absorber and Bumper Reinforcement.

Bumper Reinforcement

On all late-model cars, this is the part of the bumper that secures the outer bumper fascia and energy absorber to the vehicle's body rails. It secures the bumper sub-assembly to the vehicle, front and rear. The bumper reinforcement is an important component to a vehicle's system communications to the airbag, or other safety components, so it's important to replace an absorber with an original part made to work with your vehicle. Also see Bumper Absorber and Bumper Fascia.

Carrier

The insurance company that issues the insurance policy. The term refers to the fact that the company carries (or assumes) certain risks for the policyholder.

Casualty

Liability or loss resulting from an accident.

Certificate of Financial Responsibility

Depending on the state requirement, this is a form certifying that coverage has been purchased to meet the state's Financial Responsibility laws. Such forms include: SR-22, FR-44, SR-50, or any other state form.

Claim

Any request or demand for payment under the terms of the insurance policy to cover an incurred loss. You should include OEM parts as part of a claim.

Claimant

A person who makes an insurance claim.

Claims Adjuster (same as 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. Make sure you have an adjuster evaluate your vehicle before any repairs are made to your vehicle.

Clause

A section of an insurance policy that explains, clarifies, or defines the conditions of coverage. Depending on your insurance provider, you may have a parts clause which determines which types of parts are included in your coverage. An OEM parts rider can be an added clause to your policy.

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. Collision Insurance is the portion of the insurance policy that covers parts. Make sure you have OEM parts included in your coverage.

Comparative Negligence

A principle of law that, in some states, may enable claimants to recover a portion of their damages even when they are partially at fault, or negligent. Each party's negligence is compared to the others' and a claimant's recovery can be reduced by the percentage of his or her own negligence.

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

This is optional coverage in case your car is stolen or is 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. If you need replacement parts due to any of these events, ask for OEM replacement parts.

Conditions

The portion of the insurance contract that outlines the duties and responsibilities of both the insured and the insurance company. Make sure to ask about any conditions concerning collision replacement parts.

Contributory Negligence

A principle of law that, in some states, may prevent claimants from recovering any portion of their damages if they are even partially at fault or negligent.

Copy Parts

See Aftermarket Parts.

Coverage

Protection and benefits provided in an insurance policy. Make sure you understand what your policy covers, including which parts will be used as replacements after an accident.

Damage

Loss or harm to a person or property.

Declarations

The section of a policy that includes your name and address, the property that is being insured, its location and description, the policy period, the types and amount of insurance coverage and the premiums.

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. If you don't have OEM replacement parts coverage included in your policy, you may be responsible for paying for the difference, so check with your insurance provider to make sure you have original parts coverage.

Depreciation

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

Diminished Value

The concept that a vehicle is worth less after being collision-repaired.

Dollar Threshold

In certain states with no-fault auto insurance, this prevents individuals from suing to recover for pain and suffering unless their medical expenses exceed a specified dollar amount, called the threshold.

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, like 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. See Steering.

Direct Repair Shop

An insurer-suggested or -preferred collision repair shop that participates in a direct repair program (DRP) with that insurance company.

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.

Endorsement (same as Rider)

A change to the original insurance contract.

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.

Exclusion

Restrictions in your insurance policy that limit or exclude coverage for certain people, property, activities, situations, etc. For example, most auto insurance policies exclude coverage for normal wear and tear, drag racing and intentional acts.

Expiration Date

The date your coverage ends. There is usually a time of day associated with this date, for example, an expiration date of 5/1/2002 at 12:01am. This means your coverage ends one minute after midnight on the date listed.

Fair Market Value

The price at which property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, where both parties have reasonable knowledge of the relevant facts and neither party is under any compulsion to buy or sell.

Financial Responsibility Law

Requires the owner of a vehicle to show proof of financial ability to pay for negligence in causing losses to others from the operation of a motor vehicle.

Front-End Alignment (FEA)

This contrasts with four-wheel alignment.

Gap Insurance

If you are making lease or loan payments and you experience a total loss, there may be a difference (gap) between the market value of your vehicle and what you still owe on it. Gap insurance pays the difference between the actual cash value of a vehicle and the amount still to be paid on the loan. A gap policy may also cover the amount of the deductible.

Garage Location

The location where your insured car is parked most of the time. This location is usually indicated by the ZIP code of the policyholder's primary residence.

Hit and Run

An accident caused by someone who doesn't stop to assist, or provide information at the scene. Damages to your vehicle caused by a hit and run driver are often covered as part of uninsured, or underinsured motorist insurance.

Imitation parts

See Aftermarket Parts.

Indemnity

A principle that says when a loss occurs, the insured and his/her vehicle should be restored to the condition they were in before the loss occurred---no better, no worse. In practice, this is limited by the value of coverage and the terms specified in the insurance policy. Forms of indemnity include cash payments, repairs, replacement and reinstatement. This is the principle upon which insurance contracts are based.

Insurance

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.

Kelley Blue Book

A publication for determining the value of used automobiles and trucks.

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.

See also: Property Damage Liability and Bodily Injury Liability.

Lien holder

A person or organization, such as a bank or leasing company, with a financial interest in property up to the amount of money borrowed, or still owed on the property.

Limits of Liability

The amount specified in your policy up to which the insurance company will protect you. Limits may apply to an individual accident and/or a specific period of time. Most states have laws that specify the minimum limit that must be purchased for each type of required insurance coverage.

LKQ Parts

See Salvage Parts.

Loss

The amount an insurance company pays on a claim.

Loss Payee

A person or entity that is protected under the named insured's auto policy. This is usually a lessor or a bank that loaned money to buy a car.

Loss of Use

Compensation to a third-party claimant for financial consequences resulting from the inability to use property as the result of accident-related damage.

No-Fault Insurance

In some states insurance companies are legally required to pay a policyholder's covered losses, regardless of who was responsible for an accident. This coverage is subject to the terms, limits and conditions of the policy contract and may pay for medical treatment, lost wages, or other accident-related expenses regardless of who caused the accident.

Non-OEM Parts

See Aftermarket Parts.

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, 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.

Paint-less Dent Repair

A repair made by pulling a minor dent from a body panel that doesn't damage the paint and removes the need for post-repair refinishing.

Party (First Party, Second Party, Third Party)

In an insurance contract, the policyholder (and other people specifically named in the policy, such as family members) is the first party. The insurance company is the second party in the contract. Anyone else is a third party. If you are involved in an accident you are the first party and the other driver would be a third party.

Pre-Accident Condition (also Pre-Loss condition)

This is 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:

  1. The function of the vehicle and all its systems;

  2. Vehicle 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;

  3. Appearance of the vehicle

OEM parts are the only parts manufactured and tested to provide the fit, finish and durability of the original vehicle before it was in an accident.

Premium

The amount paid by an insured to an insurance company to obtain or maintain an insurance policy.

Primary Use

What your vehicle is mainly used for---pleasure, to and from work, business, commercial or farm.

Principal Driver/Primary Driver

The person who drives the vehicle most often.

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. Damaged parts might be remanufactured, rebuilt or reconditioned to use again and are considered salvaged parts.

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. Rebuilt parts are not guaranteed to provide the same fit, finish, durability or function of a new OEM part.

Recycled Parts

See Salvage Parts.

Refurbished Collision Parts

Refurbished collision parts are generally parts removed from an existing vehicle that are repaired and/or refinished, such as bumper covers, wheels, or lamps and are reused. These are considered salvaged parts and cannot guarantee the same structural integrity of an original part.

Remanufactured Mechanical Parts

Remanufactured parts are 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. OE and non-OE remanufacturers make these mechanical parts; so make sure you know where your parts come from.

Repair Authorization

The point at which a consumer authorizes the repair to their vehicle (and in some cases contingent upon the insurance company settlement process). Make sure you always read and understand what you are signing and keep asking questions if you don't.

Replacement Cost

This is the cost to repair or replace an insured item, according to its current worth.

Repair Order (RO)

This is 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. When you review the work order, make sure you understand any abbreviations and ask questions if you don't understand. This is also called a Work Order.

Salvage Parts

Parts saved 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

  • Recycled

  • L.K.Q.--Like Kind and Quality

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 program or not and whether their insurance company recommends it or not. See Steering.

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.

Supplement

Additional repairs needed to complete the repairs 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.

Term

The length of time for which an insurance policy is in force.

Tort

A wrongful act, whether intentional or accidental (negligence), resulting in legal liability for damage or injury. Automobile liability insurance is purchased to protect against suits arising from unintentional torts. Some states ask you to select a tort provision. In these states, you can limit your right to sue for non-monetary damages (like pain and suffering) in exchange for a reduced auto insurance premium.

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 80%.

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.

Umbrella Insurance

Provides high limits of additional liability coverage above the limits of your homeowner's and auto policy. In addition, it provides coverage that may be excluded by other liability policies.

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.

Usage

This refers to the primary function or purpose in which you intend to operate your vehicle.

Used Parts

See Salvage Parts.

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. Your vehicle manufacturer may not warrant new aftermarket, salvaged or reconditioned parts used for collision repair. 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.

Work Order

This is 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. When you review the work order, make sure you understand any abbreviations and ask questions if you don't understand. This is also called a Repair Order.

Disclaimer: The definitions contained herein are provided as guidance and are generally accepted in the collision industry, but some may not apply in all states or circumstances.

This content was created in partnership with-CrashRepairInfo.com.

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