The Oklahoma Attorney General, Scott Pruitt, says that his office is investigating reports that auto insurers are coercing accident victims to only use repair shops which the insurer recommends.
Known as steering, the insurers use high-pressure techniques to push car accident victims toward auto body shops the insurance companies prefer. These repair shops may be passing off salvaged or substandard auto parts as newer, more expensive materials.
Regardless of the sales tactics an insurance company uses, Oklahoma law allows auto accident victims to choose which repair shop they will use. In turn, the insurance company has an obligation to cover the reasonable cost of repairs.
The Attorney General warns drivers that shop and which use aftermarket or salvaged parts could void a vehicles warranty, or the parts may not meet the manufacturers requirements.
Many insurance companies have preferred or recommended repair shops which they may suggest to vehicle owners. Some insurance companies, however, are crossing the line and using coercive or deceptive statements meant to force vehicle owners to use a specific shop.
This problem is not just limited to Oklahoma; recently, the Louisiana Attorney General filed a lawsuit against State Farm for the same behavior. In that case, the Attorney General alleged that the insurance company was using scare tactics to steer Louisiana consumers to State Farms preferred repair shops and forcing shops to perform vehicle repairs cheaply and quickly, rather than in accordance with consumer safety and vehicle manufacturer performance standards.
The Oklahoma Attorney General is urging Oklahomans who have been subject to coercive or deceptive tactics by insurance companies to contact his office.
If you have been in an accident and need your car repaired, you have several important legal rights. Keep the following in mind when fixing your vehicle:
- You have no obligation to use your insurance companys approved or preferred repair shop.
- You have the right to get your car repaired wherever you choose. Your insurance company is responsible for the reasonable repair costs of restoring your car to its previous condition.
- Your repair shop is responsible for any warranty or guarantee with the work done on your car, not your insurance company.
- Your insurance deductible will remain the same no matter which body shop you use.
- Choose a repair shop based on the opinions of people you trust, rather than your insurance company.
- Dont be afraid to ask your repair shop questions about the parts they use, or request a tour of the shop.
If you have additional questions about your rights after an accident, the experienced accident attorneys at The Edwards Law Firm are here for you.