For more than twenty years, automobile insurance companies have been accused of abusing policyholders relating to a practice called “steering.” In fact, there have been lawsuits filed over the practice. The “steering” of customers by insurance companies away from automobile repair shops and/or glass shops is an illegal business practice. All body shops want to be on the “approved list” of an insurance company and that’s not a bad thing. However, some insurance companies require shops to agree to perform repairs in accordance with the insurance company’s guidelines. Some independent body shops believe this practice can result in the customer’s vehicle being repaired in an unsafe manner or not being put back to the standard actually required in the contract between the insurer and the policyholder. But the practice of “steering” can save insurance companies money. A consumer organization has been formed in Alabama to help educate consumers about “steering” and to deal with issues relating to body shops in general.
Collision Repairs for Consumer Choice (CRCC), which is based in Northport, Alabama, hopes to educate vehicle owners and to help them make informed decisions regarding repairs of their vehicles. Consumers must understand that most body shops view the insurance company as the customer because it has the checkbook. There have been instances where body shops performed repairs, but covered up hidden damage. There have also been reports of vehicles not being repaired in a satisfactory or safe method. Consumers have been conditioned to let the body shops and insurance companies negotiate the repair transaction, leaving the consumer pretty much out of the loop. The following are some questions vehicle owners may want to ask the body shop or their insurance agent prior to having repairs done:
Have any oral or written agreements been made to use discount parts and/or labor with any outside entity for the repairs to the vehicle?
These may be helpful questions for any person who – because of an accident – needs repairs to a vehicle. For more information about this new consumer group or to answer any additional questions, you can contact the CRCC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: CRCC News Release
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