Collision repairs, insurance companies, body shops and Tesla

Collision repairs, insurance companies, body shops and Tesla

My wife has asked me an interesting question:

If someone rear-ends me in my theoretical Model S, how does the repair process go? Normally the insurance company would send your car to one of their authorized body shops, who would then order replacement parts (often aftermarket generics) for the car and replace any piece they couldn't repair. Are there parts companies currently manufacturing generic Model S bumpers? If not, is Tesla selling parts to 3rd-party body shops? If not, it would make a random body shop useless - and in that case would my insurance company pay to get it repaired at a Tesla repair shop?

I don't know if anyone has dealt with this yet (I've only seen self-inflicted scratches and scrapes so far) but it's bound to occur any day now. How does it work?

lajollan | December 11, 2012

Seems like if only Tesla has the expertise, you have answered your own question. There obviously is no aftermarket of Tesla body parts available, nor is there likely to be for a long time. Remember, Tesla has at least 250 patents awarded or pending on this car. That is not only the battery, includes extruded steel "welds" and probably the body also which I believe is aluminum. Hence, if Tesla is the only game in town for repairs, insurance companies have no choice. Looking at the thread about insurance costs, they appear very reasonable except my insurance, Allstate which quoted $1600/6 months as a tentative quote. I note someone in my area with a sig was quoted about $560/6mos. with Geico. Guess where my insurance is going!

WSC | December 11, 2012

My quote from Liberty Mutual is $890 for one year

lajollan | December 11, 2012


Where do you live and how many miles drive per year? What deductable?

archibaldcrane | December 11, 2012

I guess we'll have to wait til someone gets into a collision to see how this goes.

appljd | December 11, 2012

AllState quoted use $600 / 6 months.

Jewsh | December 11, 2012

In Ontario your insurance provider cannot direct you to any repair shop; you are free to take your car anywhere. In my case I'd drop the car off at the closest Tesla repair depot.

jat | December 11, 2012

For me, State Farm @ $602/6mo, $1k deductable, doubling uninsured coverage from $25k to $50k given the price of the car. For reference, my LEAF is $386/6mo, so the premium is roughly proportional to the prices of the two cars.

CollisionSam | January 4, 2013

Good question Archibald, I just posted a new thread about this subject.

Allow me to give you some professional advice about the process.

First of all, let's clarify the difference between how it is supposed to work and what you called "normally works" (I call it insurance company taking advantage of misinformed customer). You never have to go the insurance company's choice of shops. This is not to bash on all insurance co's but most will take your car to a shop under the ruse of providing a service, in order to minimize expenses for themselves. If you know a good shop that will take care of YOU, use them. If you have no clue on where to go, either do the research (yelp is a good resource) or just roll over, play dumb and let the insurance handle it themselves.

There are no aftermarket parts for Tesla. And I wouldn't expect to see any in the near future. Not because of patents, but rather the demand is really low (for now).

Since the Tesla is aluminum, the repairs are NOT run of the mill. Maybe 1 in every 100 shops is equipped for aluminum repairs. Keep in mind, none of the 2 or 3 welders approved by Porsche, Audi, Mercedes, BMW, etc is NOT the welder approved by Tesla. So just cause they say they are aluminum equipped, doesn't mean they have the right equipment.

Teslas are ONLY approved to be repaired on Carbench jig system. So if the shop has conventional frame machines, or even Celette jigs, they will NOT be able to do structural repairs on your Tesla.

Up until recently, any Model S that sustained collision damage, would have been sent back to the factory for repairs. As Tesla continues to certify shops all over the country, the collision repair process has become MUCH easier. Insurance adjusters (in my experience) are willing to accept the expertise of a certified shop and do what is asked of them. So whatever the certified shop says will go. If you chose to have the repairs done at a non-certified shop, you will see some resistance from the insurance. More importantly, Tesla WILL NOT sell structural parts to non-certified shops.

So IF something happens to your Tesla, you have nothing to worry about. Tesla will point you in the right direction and make sure your experience as an owner is a pleasant one. I've seen first hand the amount of care and research they have put into the collision repair process (as it's a realistic part of ownership) and I can assure you, you have nothing to worry about.


archibaldcrane | January 4, 2013

Good to know.

Also sounds like simple body work on the Model S is going to be obscenely expensive for insurance companies.

lajollan | January 4, 2013

Someone was already in an accident. See post (may be private) "first scratch, ding in your Model S" He has to obviously have factory handle and was told it would be ninety, yes, ninety hours of work!

Volker.Berlin | January 4, 2013

Someone was already in an accident. See post (may be private) "first scratch, ding in your Model S" He has to obviously have factory handle and was told it would be ninety, yes, ninety hours of work! (lajollan)

Here's the thread:

DouglasR | January 4, 2013

Tesla has approved an aluminum-certified body shop in the Seattle area. It is Queen City Auto Rebuild in Redmond, WA. It's got a very good reputation, but I was told by an insurance guy that it's the most expensive body shop in the state -- handles very high end aluminum body cars.

I assume that they would get their replacement parts from the factory and do the body work themselves.

noel.smyth | January 4, 2013

@appljd - can you share your allstate agent contact with me -
I got a quote from allstate for 1150 for 6 months. (its 1800 for six months with my 18 year old on the policy - may move him to his own policy - expensive either way)

noel.smyth | January 4, 2013

@WSC - Just called liberty mutual and they told me they stopped insuring the tesla. :-(

bfranks273 | January 4, 2013

I had a minor bump/scrape on the front driver side corner. DC store sent me to a shop they are buds with. Got an estimate where they plan no part replacement just repaint, multi layer, sig red. $2700. They say I am the second Model S, they have done many Roadsters. I'll let you know how it goes.

JonathanDurning | August 6, 2013

Drive cautiously everyone. Our recent minor dent/scratches on rear passenger door and quarter panel were just estimated at Beaverton Oregon Precision Auto body for 5,591.20. Ouch. I suspect Insurance rates will likely be going up.

arldent3300 | December 17, 2014

I was rear ended by a Hyundai Elantra this afternoon. The feeling was so surreal...REALLY REALLY did someone just rammed into my 4 1/2 mo. old baby?! My rear bumper broke but still hanging in there, the lip of the trunk lid dented some with chipped paint noted, plastic parts right inside the trunk broke apart. The car felt rough driving home, luckily it was only about 1 mile from home. I am not crying right now in front of my kids, but perhaps after they have gone to bed :((( The guy's insurance, liability only as it is the minimum required in Texas, was effective only today at 2:21 pm and the accident literally happened an hour after that! I called his insurance company and they did not have Tesla in their database. They said someone will call and come look at it. What should I be concerned about the car since I was at a stand still and he hit me hard enough to really damaged his front end. I would post a picture if someone shows me how. Anyone knows how to calculate the lost of value amount because of the accident? I have 3,700 miles or so on the car. Had anyone been rear ended, and what is the outcome? Thanks for any guidance.

valentir | December 17, 2014

My 11 month parked S60 was hit by 4500 pound Land Rover doing about 40 in residential street by a drunk. Drunk in jail. She's insured. Car taken to approved Tesla repair (Chilton - in SF Bay Area). Declared total loss (Tesla would provide one of the parts - compromises structural integrity. Tesla gives classes on aluminum welding to Chilton. Close relationship. Both my insurance company (USAA) and Tesla said go to Chilton. Tesla told me to go there. USAA said they trust Chilton and they don't second guess their estimates. Problem now is how to determine loss - replacement value: well they have the colors and features I had. Features actually better, but more expensive. "Depreciation" - Tesla uses a monthly and mileage combo formula. Looking at Craig's list (don't buy there!), the prices all over the map. Plan to get S85 demo that's closest to what we had.

Brian H | December 18, 2014

Host a picture on a website like photobucket. They may have special procedures or code for HTML posting, but if not display the pic full size, then rt-click and select Copy Image Location. Paste that url in <img src="URL" width="600"> , using the quotes as shown.

sbeggs | December 19, 2014

@Brian H,
Do you think photobucket is the easiest site to host a photo on? If not, which other one do you recommend? I tried dropbox, but do not like it.

Brian H | December 19, 2014

Flickr also works, but you have to follow their procedure and copy their HTML generally. All the sites seem to be messing around with what works; Dropbox is the worst right now, for allowing display here.

valentir | December 20, 2014

My insurance had an "replacement cost estimator" provide an estimate. Condition average. I argued it's perfect. They said, yes, perfect is average for a Tesla! They raised to to above average.

eweinberg1 | May 11, 2015

For anyone living in the L.A. area, I have to put in my two cents for Avio Coach Craft. They only work on Teslas, and having been there twice, I can honestly say that each time my experience far exceeded my expectations.

The first time, a shopping cart rolled through a supermarket parking lot and put a tiny ding in my Model S right above the rear wheel. A couple of body shops said they couldn't use PDR (paintless dent removal) because of the location of the ding and the way Teslas are built; even an independent PDR guy drove out to me, looked at it for a long time and said he couldn't do it. When I heard about Avio and brought my car to Mitch and Brian there, I was prepared for about a $3000 bill for this tiny dent, but I asked them to please have their PDR guy take one last look at it just in case. They did, the guy fixed the dent perfectly for about $150, and later that day I got my car back.

The second time, someone clipped my front bumper and shredded the edge, and really the only solution was to replace the bumper. Mitch drove to the other Avio location, where they had a discarded bumper in perfect shape from another car, and used that, which saved me nearly half the price of my repair. I got my car back in three days, the bumper and paint job was absolutely flawless, and as a bonus they even managed to make the fit between my bumper, fender and hood just a little more perfect than it had been when I got my car from the factory.

I have no affiliation with Avio, I hope to never need them again, but anyone in the L.A. area should know they're extremely nice, honest guys who do fantastic work.

Big Daddy 1963 | September 3, 2015

My 4 month old midnight blue P85D with not a scratch on it was struck a week ago by a car that decided to attempt a U turn from where he was parallel parked as we drove past. My guess is it will be a total loss because of the extensive damage to the entire right side of the vehicle. All airbags deployed and the rear lift gate on the opposite side of the car that wasn't involved in the accident was sitting askew and not level with the adjoining rear quarter panel. I don't know if I want her back but she saved my entire family including my wife, son, daughter and 10 month old granddaughter from what could have been a disaster in another vehicle. Thank you Elon...

Eric.meyer.wrec... | September 5, 2015

Important item Tesla has done that is above and beyond to confirm collision shops have the knowledge and training is to require inclusion before the can buy parts.

My experience over the years is poor collision repairs start with low or limited education about the proper process for the make and model of the vehicle. I inspect vehicles with damage everyday and see high quality repairs when working with Certified Tesla locations. However, when doing the same on other vehicles the quality varies from very low to high quality.

Good tip about adjusters from the insurance companies have a single focus. Settle the claims. Be mindful they are not the quality control police. It is your car and your choice about your vehicle. Fully understand before you accept the visual estimate from any adjuster. Ask the shop with is the best quality and safe method to repair my Tesla. Tip is not get "talked" into accepting lower quality to save the insurance money.

I am happy to provide free advise about the process. Contact me at: Eric

mallynb | September 6, 2015

In Wisconsin it worked this way for us. 1. Call AMICA and find out if they have a body shop to recommend. Yes, Marshall, a body shop in Waukasha that is certified by both Tesla and by AMICA. 2. Call Aaron at Marshall and set up an appointment for picking up our Model S. 3. Marshall ordered parts from Tesla, called when they arrived, and returned our Model S when it was ready. All from about 70 miles away.