The Right to Choose
It is your right to choose your own collision repair facility and to have the insurance company pay for safe and proper repairs to your vehicle so it retains its value and meets important safety standards…
However, insurance companies often do not volunteer to train you on how to collect what your entitled to or your rights after a loss. They may never tell you what is at stake in the selection of a repair facility. Instead when you report a loss and need information about how to get your vehicle repaired efficiently and effectively, the insurance representative is likely to tell you about referral shops – so called preferred shops or programs. They may try to provide a list of shops that have agreed in advance to insurer price controls and corner cuts. These cost controls may not be in your best interest.
Know Your Rights
In New York you have the absolute right to select the collision repair shop of your choice to make repairs. No insurance company, independent agent, representative, appraiser , adjuster or staff member of an insurance company can legally force you to or away from any specific repair shop, require that repairs be made by a specific repair shop or individual. Nor can they require you to have your vehicle inspected at their drive-in claims center. If you request it, your insurer must inspect the damage to your vehicle at your chosen location or collision repair shop. (Regulation 64)
Control Your Decision
Exercise Your Rights: Don’t allow the insurance companies to make decisions for you. Don’t be intimidated – steering is illegal in New York. Don’t allow insurance companies or agents to steer you to a specific shop rather than a trusted shop of your choice. The practice of steering places insurance company profits ahead of public safety and penalizes repair shops that place safety first.
Preserve Your Rights
If you feel your rights have been violated, let state regulators and legislators know what happened and that you understand and value your right to choose.
Make Informed Decisions
There are compelling reasons to chose a trusted repair shop who you know will make sure the vehicle is truly restored to its pre-accident condition. Factors to consider include:
Referral repair shops work for the insurance company. Independent repair shops work for the consumer. Insurance appraisers work for the insurance company. Independent collision repair facilities work for you. They are looking out for your best interest. They will negotiate directly with the insurance company for at the very least, the most practical value given the age of your vehicle. They will seek full and proper repairs so that your vehicle is safe for you and your family. Independent collision repairers look out for your interests and will serve as your advocate and representative during the repair process. Preferred or referral repair shops represent the insurance company in both negotiations and the repair of the vehicle. They contract with insurance companies regarding the repairs, the costs and the repair procedures. The insurance company sets the guidelines, rules and the repair shop is required to follow them or risk losing the insurers referral business. But the cost reduction has to come from somewhere. It may affect the quality and thoroughness of the repair service and/or the quality and condition of the parts used. You have paid your insurance premiums with the expectation of receiving safe and proper repairs - not cheap, inferior or incomplete repairs.
The first step to assure your best chance at a correct repair is through the use of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. Other companies manufacture parts that are made to look like your vehicle’s parts, but may have never been crash tested and may affect the performance and safety of your vehicle. These parts are not covered under your vehicle manufacturer’s warranty and there are no provisions for recalls based on the safety or performance of these parts. Consumer Reports reported on the results of its extensive study of non-OEM parts in its story in the February 1999 issue. Your insurance company may attempt to use imitation parts to save money on your vehicle’s repairs. Direct repair shops are, by contract required to use imitation parts. Independent repair facilities will supply you with information to help you negotiate with your insurance company for the appropriate original equipment manufacturer’s parts to maintain the integrity and value of your vehicle. In the case of a poor quality repair you could sustain a loss of value to your vehicle. This is known as Diminished Value or DV. Contact www.wreckcheck.com or your local Wreck Check facility for information about collecting on your loss. Syracuse Wreck Check number is (315) 471-8521.