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Consumer alert
What people are saying

Dear Shawn,

I want to say “thank you” again for your gracious and generous act of kindness in fixing my “chariot” like new.

It is after all just a car, but I appreciate excellence as much as possible in my life.

I’m enjoying the restoration of my tailgate.

Hopefully I’ll stay clean for quite some time, but it and when I need help, I’ll head straight for Marin Collision.

-Chris Witmer Littleton
If you're looking for quality... Look to us.

Before having your vehicle repaired, please take the time to review the information on this page. You will likely be very surprised at how rampant corruption has become in the insurance industry. In the end, these practices affect YOU, the consumer.

We are insurance claims experts and work with all insurance carriers. Beware of being guided to a “Preferred repair facility”. In many cases, this is not in your best interest and is in the interest of “cost containment” for the insurance company. We are a direct repair shop for a select few insurance companies who are truly interested in a quality repair. Choose the facility that is working in your best interest and on your behalf. The responsibility for providing a quality repair on your vehicle which will not affect you down the road (diminished value at time of resale) rest’s squarely on the shoulders of your chosen repair shop. Will you trust your 2nd largest investment to a shop that is working solely in the insurance company’s best interest?

According to law, an insurance company’s only role in the collision repair process is to verify a loss and indemnification. Colorado House Bill 03-1253 (http://www.dora.state.co.us/insurance/regs/old%20bulletins/b11-03.pdf ) guarantees you the following rights:

  • You can choose where your motor vehicle is repaired
  • Your insurance company cannot dictate where you have your motor vehicle repaired
  • Your insurance company cannot refuse or delay payment of your claim based on where you have your motor vehicle repaired.
  • Your insurance company cannot require a particular kind, age, vendor, supplier or condition of parts for your repair

In short, the repair shop is required to complete a fair and accurate estimate of repairs and to get an approval for the repairs from the vehicle owner. At this point, it is the insurance company’s obligation to cover the loss. The current process as a whole is in fact against the law, but it has become such commonplace, that it has become a standard. It is your legal right to choose your own repair facility. It is against the law for an insurance company to dissuade, or intimidate you into using their “preferred” repair facility. This includes offering an additional warranty, discount or by inferring that their will be additional out of pocket expense to you, or delays by using the shop of your choice. Please read on. You may be surprised at the tactics and in many cases illegal tactics used by some insurance companies for their own benefit, disguised as a benefit for you. If any of the following sounds familiar;

If you chose our preferred repair shop, we will warranty the repairs for life. If you use your shop, there may, or will be delays with the repair. You will be responsible for any excessive charges from your shop. We will not cover a rental for delays caused by your shop.

Ask yourself this; would you trust a company who is knowingly breaking the law by making these comments, in order to force you to use a shop that will very possibly, in many cases very likely cut corners on your repair to save the insurance company money? Most of the “preferred” shop programs are based on concessions for the insurance company and not quality.

We are asked, on a regular basis to perform substandard repairs and use inferior aftermarket parts that have been proven to alter the crash-worthiness of your vehicle. I was once personally asked by an Allstate appraiser to reuse a broken horn assembly because it still made noise and could not be seen when the vehicle was re-assembled so, down the road, after moisture enters the broken housing and renders the horn useless, guess who pays for the part. I have been asked to Super-glue broken parts back together and “see if it will hold.” We work for you, not them.

WE WORK WITH ALL INSURANCE COMPANIES. We represent you, as our customer. You will never pay an amount out of pocket that an insurance company will not cover*

 

CAPA is an organization that certifies non-original equipment aftermarket crash parts. Most insurance companies promote these “certified” parts as of equal quality to the original equipment. Most insurance appraisers I have worked with readily admit they know full well that these parts are inferior in fit, form and function. The following press release is from CAPA itself and confirms that these parts are inferior. www.capacertified.org/press/030916.pdf

Independent sources have this to say:

www.abrn.com

October 09-

  •     Attorney General seeks halt to insurance company illegal practices

Connecticut Attorney General Richard A. Blumenthal today launched a nationwide call to all state attorneys general to join in urging the United States Attorney General to enforce federal antitrust laws that protect consumers against unlawful auto insurance company practices.

“Despite a four-decade old decree against these unlawful practices, insurance companies continue to coerce and manipulate consumers to repair their cars at facilities selected by insurance companies, taking away consumer freedom of choice.”

“Consumers should not be coerced into using an insurance company’s preferred shop, which will often use aftermarket replacement parts or even used parts that may void a new car warranty.”

 

April 09 –

  •  The Auto Body Association of Connecticut (ABAC) launched a national campaign to remove insurer interference from the collision repair industry. The campaign consists of two petitions to U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

The first petition is for leaders in the collision repair industry to sign and asks for the enforcement of anti-trust laws. “Conditions in the collision repair market are out of control,” the petition says. “Consumer rights are being trampled and independent repair shops are being put out of business. The repair industry and the millions of consumers serviced by it are suffering from the lack of legal enforcement.”

 

February 09 –

 

  •  Letter to Attorney General calls out insurer practices. Letter asks that existing laws be enforced that prohibit insurance company steering and price capping.

September 08 –

  • Class action lawsuits target steering. “The insurance companies clearly place considerable pressure on their specialists, with supervisors monitoring calls and coaching the specialists to break the consumer’s will to go to their own neighborhood repair shop.”
  • Repairer sues for labor, paint shortages. Shop filed for more than 100 claims against insurers since 2007. “When some insurers are served, they get an attitude right away. In the one case where the insurer did fight the claim, it backfired and blew up in their face.”
  • Leaders call for federal insurance regulation. “The long-term solution for the insurer-repairer-consumer relationship is the federal regulation of the insurance industry.” Bob Redding ASA http://www.asashop.org/

www.bodyshopbusiness.com  :

September 09-

·         DRP Agreement penalizes shops for using original equipment parts

9/9/2009 3:22:54 PM

A document obtained by consumer advocacy group Consumer Watchdog shows that Mercury Insurance pays its DRP shops incentives of up to $750 to use aftermarket and reconditioned parts while penalizing shops for using OEM parts.

June 09-

  • Liberty Mutual to pay nearly $1 million in fines and restitution after a market conduct exam revealed violation of state law.

May 09-

  • TV Report Questions Colorado DOI's Enforcement of Steering Law

    In a special report aired recently on ABC 7 News in Denver, Call7 Investigators questioned the Colorado Division of Insurance’s (DOI) alleged lack of enforcement of the state’s steering law. The AAJ also reported that over the past decade, the property/casualty and life/health insurance industries have each had annual profits exceeding $30 billion and that the industry as a whole has around $3.8 trillion in assets.

January 09 –

  • “Without significant changes to current direct-repair programs, all parties involved are stuck with a system that has become a fertile garden for corruption, abuse, extortion and inefficiency.”
  •  Key insurance managers at multiple insurance companies were exposed for extorting shops and taking payoffs in return for putting shops on their DRP’s.
  •   DRP programs contain elements that many consider to be unethical, illegal and out of control, and that constitute a blatant violation of fair trade and consumer protection laws.

August 08 – 

  •   “The insurance companies are intimidating people into going to preferred shops.”
  • “Mercury Insurance Group ordered to pay $250,000.00 settlement” for alleged claims handling violations.
  • Allstate settled a bad-faith lawsuit in Missouri in early July that helped net millions of dollars in fines against the company and prompted the release of controversial documents outlining the company’s alleged tactics for low-balling customer’s claims.
  •   The American Association for Justice ranked Allstate the “worst insurer for customers” and accused the insurer of using “hardball tactics” against policy holders, habitually denying or delaying claims payouts and hoarding excessive profits. Thee AAJ contended Allstate’s so-called “deny, delay, defend strategy” when dealing with claims it what makes it the worst insurer on the list.

 

September 05 –

  • A jury awarded five former Insurance agents $20 million after finding that the (Insurance) company wrongly terminated them for criticizing its treatment of policyholders. Plaintiffs allowed their names to be used in a letter charging the company with fraudulent attempts to lower payments to auto accident victims, deceptive use of aftermarket crash parts, misrepresenting life insurance policies as investment vehicles, overcharging for homeowners insurance and redlining.

 

 

 

 

 

www.scrs.com

February 08 –

 Insurance Company Abuse – SCRS Members Indentify Some Disturbing “Trends”

  • Deceptive referral practices of a malicious nature.
  • Disparaging Statements.
  • Secondary steering tactics.
  • Vague and Ambiguous remarks about repair “delays”.
  • Refusal to reimburse for proper repairs.
  • Misleading service offerings or insinuations in the name of consumer service.
  • Database manipulation and representing it as ‘market acceptable processes’.
  • Intimidation techniques and threats to keep DRP, referral or concierge-type shop operators from discussing the details of the various programs
  • Utilizing inexperienced claims staff to negotiate repair hours and methods based on a consumer’s loss.
  • Denigrating a collision repairer because of the lack of a DRP, referral or concierge-type program relationship.
  • Prey on the consumer’s lack of knowledge in their rights or repair expectations to gain leverage against the informed repairer.
  • Unnecessary delays for estimate completion and authorization.
  • Refusal to negotiate in good faith.

 

This may raise your blood pressure:

Have you noticed the recent surge in advertizing by many Insurance providers? The reason for this may not sit well. I recently read an article that stated the insurance companies profits have been so great, they were forced by the government to make a tough decision. Refund the overages to policyholders? Use the excessive profits to pay for quality replacement parts instead of directing the use of inferior replacement parts? The answer they came up with is to spend the money on advertizing in order to add to their bottom line even further!

For more interesting info, try these sites:

www.dora.state.co.us/insurance/consumer/AutoMain.htm

www.c-a-r-a.org/ 

www.badfaithinsurance.org/bfindex.html

www.badfaithinsurance.org/doi.html

www.asashop.org/autoinc/jan98/parts.htm

www.allstateinsurancesucks.com/

www.farmersinsurancegroupsucks.com/

www.zero2rich.com/progressive-auto-insurance-sucks.html

www.lakelandraceway.com/friends_garage/nationwide_sucks.htm

 

*This does not include deductibles or amounts deducted for betterment. (Prior wear and tear or percentage of wear for consumable parts)

 

July 08 –

  •   For many reasons, including the insurance companies’ penchant for underpaying claims, with few exceptions, every insurer-written sheet requires a supplement before actual repairs can begin. “They (supplements) make repairers look like they’re dragging out the repair when in fact their incentive obviously is to deliver the vehicle back to the consumer ASAP. Several times, I’ve heard of insurance companies telling their insured’s that they should’ve picked a DRP shop to avoid the delays when, in fact, they’re the root cause of the delays.”
  •   Repairers win unanimous Supreme Court decision on steering. The Hartford is accused of steering its customers to its “preferred” shops rather than freely allowing customers to use the shops of their own choosing. “This is just one more step in a long road against The Hartford and other insurance companies that seemingly disregard both regulations and consumers’ best interests.”

9843 Titan Court • Littleton, CO • 80125