A student e-mailed me with questions concerning insurance steering. So, I thought I would post a blog about insurance steering. I don’t claim to be an insurance expert, but I can “steer” you in the right direction.
First of all, it is illegal to steer customers to a repair shop. However, insurance companies have been doing it for years. Insurance companies facing a body shop is like Goliath facing David. They have the money and resources to take how ever long it takes in court to win their case and get their way.
When you’re involved in an accident, you’ll need to turn your claim into your insurance company. From there, the insurance company directs the insurer to take their vehicle to their Direct Repair Program (DRP) shop. The shop is required to abide by the insurance company’s guidelines. This may include discounts, using aftermarket parts, and other ways to cut costs. The problem is that some of the repair shops are performing poor and unsafe repairs. The shop has to cut corners to make a profit at the discounted rate. However, the vehicle is delivered to the customer, which may not be in its pre-accidental condition. The good news is that you do not have to settle for this.
You have the legal right to have your vehicle repaired where you want
Some insurance companies have been using their weight to steer customers to their DRP shops. They may claim that they will not pay the claim at the repair shop you wish to have your vehicle repaired at or they may tell you that you will have to pay out of pocket if you don’t use their recommended shops. They may also tell you that they will not guarantee the repairs, if it is not repaired at their recommended shop. However, this is not true, the insurance does not guarantee the repairs, the repair shop does. You have the right to have the vehicle repaired at the repair shop of your choosing.
Shops and insurers are fighting back
Shops and insurers are fighting back and making progress with their rights. Insurance companies agree that steering is illegal and they deny these types of accusations. We’re hearing more stories like the post by SceneExchange “It’s on-David vs. Goliath Insurance Style.” This was a case where Progressive Insurance sued a repair shop for fraud and refused to pay the claim. At the same time, the repair shop was not a DRP shop and refused to settle for the discounted rate that Progressive offered to pay for the claim. To make a long story short, the repair shop won the case and Progressive was required to pay the full amount. That was a big day for the collision industry, as it gave us hope that we don’t have to take this any more.
If you’re involved in an accident
You have the right to have your vehicle repaired at the repair shop you choose. The insurance company may try to tell you where to take the car, but don’t back down. It is illegal for the insurance company to steer you to a repair shop.
If you do not feel comfortable dealing with the insurance company, take your vehicle to the repair shop of choice and give the shop the authorization to contact the insurance on your behalf. This is something the shop does on a daily basis and they can negotiate with the insurance company for you. This will eliminate the hassles of dealing with the insurance company so you can focus on the more important things in life.