According to I-Can, steering refers to the practice of insurance companies directing their claimants to or away from a specific repair facility or provider. This practice is illegal. In California, for example, the following steering laws apply:
758.5 (a) No insurer shall require that an automobile be repaired at a specific automotive repair dealer, as defined in Section 9880.1 of the Business and Professional Code. (b) (1) No insurer shall suggest or recommend that an automobile be repaired at a specific automotive repair dealer.
This issue isn’t new. In fact, the 1963 Consent Decree produced by the U.S. Attorney’s General Office under the leadership of Robert F. Kennedy established that:
Insurance companies were prohibited from “… placing into effect any plan, program or practice which has the purpose or effect of… directing, advising or otherwise suggesting that any person or firm do business or refuse to do business with (a) any appraiser of damage to automobile vehicles with respect to the appraisal of such damage, or (b) any independent or dealer franchised automotive repair shop with respect to the repair of damage to automobile vehicles.”
Unfortunately, many repair shops and insured drivers claim that insurance companies are still steering.
Why is Auto Steering Still an Issue?
CNN.com wrote a story back in February where they covered this in detail after over 500 garages from 36 states filed a lawsuit against major insurance companies.
The main concern is the insured’s safety. The garages involved in the lawsuit claimed that insurance companies were pressuring them to use cheap or salvaged parts instead of new parts made by the manufacturer, in order to cut the cost of the repair. They claimed that if they didn’t comply with the insurance companies’ requirements, the insurance companies steered customers to a shop that did comply.
You want to make sure that the repairs on your car are made with new parts made by the manufacturer. You also want to make sure that the repairs are made with the highest quality standards. Your safety as well as your family’s depend on this. So, unless you agreed to letting your insurance company pick your repair shop when you first purchased your policy, due to a special circumstance such as a “high risk” policy, your insurance company doesn’t have the right to tell you where to repair your car.
What to Do When Facing Auto Steering From Your Insurer
An insurance company may be trying to steer you if they offer a list of preferred shops and tell you that unless you use these stores they won’t guarantee the repairs. The insurance company isn’t supposed to guarantee the repairs, the repair shop does that. At 1st Collision Center, for example, we give you written warranties with our repairs.
In some cases, an insurance company may claim that they will not cover the repairs if you choose your own shop, again, this is illegal, feel free to remind them of this and read the laws stated above.
If you don’t feel comfortable dealing with your insurance company, the repair shop can do this for you. Give the shop of your choice the authorization to contact your insurer on your behalf.
At 1st Collision Center, we want to help make the whole process easier for you. Let us know if you have questions.