Car owners in the state of Connecticut are asking themselves this as a prominent organization of car repair shop owners are asking for a full investigation into the practices of auto insurance companies.
Disgruntled auto body shop owners have teamed up with the Attorney General Richard Blumenthal in calling for a federal investigation of the car insurance industry in Connecticut and its policies regarding car repairs. According to representatives of the Auto Body Association of Connecticut (ABAC), motorists and repair shop owners have had it with insurance providers and what they claim as “steering” policies.
Auto body repair shops have complained for years about the insurers’ practice of “steering” policyholders to preferred shops. The ABAC argues that the policy is illegal and unfair for thousands of body shops across the state. Insurance providers, for their part, say that they do not steer clients to particular shops. In their defense, insurers argued that what they are doing is part of their marketing strategies.
However, angry shop owners have decided to take the issue to the federal government in hopes of resolving the problem. The ABAC says that insurers often persuade and in some cases, threaten policyholders into availing of the preferred shops’ services. ABAC spokesperson Michael London says that aside from the loss of income, auto repair shop owners are also concerned about the quality of work and the safety of the car owners.
London further explained by adding that the insurers’ preferred shops would often use inferior replacement parts and services to cut back on expenses. Lower costs would typically place them in the insurance companies’ favors, resulting in more customers. The ABAC argues that by using low-quality parts and substandard services, preferred shops are actually placing emphasis on pleasing insurers, rather than ensuring the safety of the vehicles and eventually, the passengers.
The organization’s representative further added that there were also instances that the preferred shops used replacement parts that voided the car’s warranty. He also accused some shops of not adhering to the customers’ or the manufacturers’ repair specifications. Safety experts contend that if done improperly, car repairs can even aggravate the problems once experienced by the vehicles when they were damaged in collisions.
Members of the ABAC also point out that insurance companies would often tell policyholders that choosing non-preferred shops would result to longer processing of claims. Some insurers even try to persuade clients by telling them that they may have to spend money out of their own pockets if they refuse to choose preferred body repair shops.