Insurance companies are a business and provide a service to make a profit. Any accident involving a motor vehicle reduces that profit. Accepting the fact that insurance companies are for profit businesses, you the consumer can understand that the carrier will attempt to pay out the least amount of money for repairs and for those vehicles that are total losses.
When you first contact your insurance company you might experience what could be called a false sense of comfort. This might include what appears to be innocent guidance in the way of instructions or recommendations. Perhaps it is the assumption that you will not object to the suggestion that they will pick your car up and take it to a certain shop. A shop the insurance company informs you is a designated shop to repair your vehicle. Remember your insurance company wants to keep as much of the premium dollars you have paid as possible.
Informing you that you must go to a company recommended shop or advising you that you must go to a specified location for help is a violation of state law. This is referred to as steering and is not permitted. The suggestion of where to take your car might seem innocent to the uniformed and might also be presented with, “we will have a rental car there for your convenience”. Most auto body shops will gladly help you with the rental process through your insurance carrier. You the consumer have the legal right to use any repair shop you choose.
If you do not let yourself get steered to a company participating body shop the tactics might change. Remember your vehicle needs to be inspected by the insurance carrier representative to determine the extent of damage. Now you might be told that a company representative will not be able to visit the body shop you have chosen. “However, if you let us move the car to our designated shop there will be no delay and your claim can be settled quickly”. Do not be fooled, there are guidelines on how long an insurance carrier has to inspect a vehicle. This is a tactic to once again steer you to the insurance company shop.
It is important for you to understand that in the body shop repair business there are two types of shops. There are independent shops and shops that are often referred to as DRP shops. DRP is short for Designated Repair Program shops that have contracted relationships with the insurance company. The DRP shops provide similar repair services, are referred vehicles by the carriers and are expected to follow the carriers policies on parts repair and or replacement. Remember, you the consumer not the insurance carrier have the right to choose where and how your vehicle is repaired.
Some other tactics might be the frantic adjuster phone calls telling you that you must decide today on the settlement offer. There is also the threat of cutting off insurance carrier storage payments and stating that you will be responsible for those costs. Verbal comments are hard to dispute, but are not uncommon tactics. Often this becomes a relentless pursuit with one goal, getting you to conform to the insurance company demands.
You are the consumer and have rights. Make informed decisions. Do not get fooled by false promises that seem too good to be true.