Collision Repair Glossary

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The following is a list of collision and insurance terms you probably would not encounter in everyday conversation. However, if you are involved in an accident, they may give you a better understanding of the collision repair process. If a body shop estimator, insurance adjuster or your insurance agent uses a term with which you are not familiar, be sure to ask about it.

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.

Act of God – Natural occurrence beyond human control or influence. Includes acts of nature such as hurricanes, earthquakes and floods. This is usually covered under comprehensive insurance and is not covered by liability and collision insurance.

Actual Cash Value – Most auto insurance coverage only reimburses you for the actual cash value of your car. This is the value of the vehicle at the time it was damaged, stolen or destroyed. After a loss, your company 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 dealer quotations in your area, and uses those prices to determine the Actual Cash Value.

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 an auto 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.

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

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.

Amendment – A change to the basic policy contract.

Air-Drying – The process of drying paint by exposing it to air at normal temperatures. Water-borne paint uses air drying as opposed to standard solvent based paints, which may use heat to facilitate drying. Water-borne paints are relatively new to the U.S. market but have been used for years in other parts of the world.

Anti-Theft Device – A device designed to either reduce the chance a vehicle will be stolen, or assist in its recovery. Examples include car alarms, starter disablers, motion detectors, steering wheel locks and recovery systems.

Anti-Theft Recovery System – An electronic device that you activate in the event your vehicle is stolen, which then emits a signal that can be used to locate your car.

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.

Arbitration – A process of settling a dispute through an impartial party rather than in the courts. Both parties typically agree to be bound by the decision of the arbitrator.

Assigned Risk Plan – A state-managed auto insurance plan for individuals who cannot obtain conventional liability coverage because of poor driving records.

At-Fault – The party that is legally liable for the damages in an accident.

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.

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.

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.

Blue Book – A publication for determining the value of used automobiles and trucks. The full name of the publication is Kelley Blue Book.

Bodily Injury – An injury sustained by a person.

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

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.

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.

Business / Commercial Use – This means that you mainly use your car for business purposes (such as delivery, service and sales calls) or work-related. Commuting to and from work is not considered business use.

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.

Chip 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.

Claimant – A person who makes an insurance claim.

Claims Adjuster (same as Adjuster) – See Adjuster.

Clause – A section of an insurance policy that explains, clarifies or defines the conditions of coverage.

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.

Collateral – Asset (such as a vehicle) pledged to a lender until a loan is repaid. If the borrower defaults, the lender has the legal right to seize the collateral and sell it to pay off the loan. Comprehensive and Collision coverages are required by lenders when a car is the collateral for a loan.

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.

Commuting – Means that you mainly use the car to drive to and from work or school.

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.

Compounding – The action of using an abrasive polishing material either by hand or by machine.

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.

Conditions – The portion of the insurance contract that outlines the duties and responsibilities of both the insured and the insurance company.

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.

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.

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.

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 under hood, trunk lids etc., as well as polishing prior to delivery of a collision-repaired vehicle.

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

Dollar Threshold – In certain states with no-fault auto insurance, the dollar threshold 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 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.

Enamel – A paint used as a topcoat (over a primer) that forms a hard glossy surface.

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 – A law requiring 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.

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.

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.

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.

Grace Period – Some auto insurance policies have a grace period that allows customers to make a payment after the due date. However, many companies will not accept a payment after the date shown on a cancellation notice.

Grinding (also see Sanding) – A harsh, abrasive machining process used to quickly remove old paint and rust from a vehicle surface. While grinding quickly and efficiently removes unwanted surface rust or paint, it leaves a rough surface, which can be further sanded or filled with primer sealer or body putty.

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.

Imitation parts – See Aftermarket Parts.

Indemnity – A principle that says when a loss occurs, the insured and his 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 – 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.

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.

Masking – Temporary covering of areas on the vehicle that are not to be painted.

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

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, 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.

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.

Paint-less Dent Repair – 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.

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.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – A coverage in which your own insurance company pays you for medical costs, lost wages, loss of essential services normally provided by the injured person (e.g. childcare, housekeeping) and funeral costs. Specific protections afforded by this type of auto insurance coverage and limits on PIP payments vary widely from state to state.

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

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

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

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

Primary Use – What your vehicle is mainly used for—pleasure, to and from work, business, commercial, or farm.

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 top coat.

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 top coat of paint will be applied.

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 any on accident.

Remove and Install (R&I) – 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.

Recycled Parts – See Salvage Parts.

Refurbished Collision Parts – In the collision repair world, 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 their 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 (also see Grinding) – 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

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.

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.

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.

Tape Marking – The imprint caused by applying masking tape on to a newly-applied paint film before it has time to harden.

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

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

Three-Coat Color – 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.

Threshold Level – A threshold level represents the degree of injury a claimant must establish before being allowed to sue the negligent party.

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.

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

Tort – A wrongful act, whether intentional or accidental (negligence), resulting in legal liability for damage or injury. Automobile liability insurance is purchased to protect one from 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.

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

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.

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.

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. 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.

Water-borne Paint – One of the two types of automotive refinish paint. It is considered more environmentally friendly than the other type, solvent-borne.

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.