Your Rights in Choosing a Texas Repair Shop
Some insurance companies try to push you to use a specific repair shop, this is called steering. They say carefully worded phrases to avoid conflicting with Texas rules and to scare customers into thinking they won't receive payment for their claim.
Furthermore, some insurance companies may have ownership in the repair shop they recommend. Some pay bonuses to employees for sending customers to specific repair shops.
By law, insurance companies cannot tell customers where to go for repairs. The Texas Department of Insurance Bill of Rights lists regulations for auto insurance claims.
"By law, you have the right to select where your motor vehicle is repaired and the parts used for repairs. However, an insurance company is not required to pay more than a reasonable amount for such repairs and parts," states The Texas Department of Insurance.
Important Facts Regarding Vehicle Repair
1. You choose where you want your vehicle towed and repaired. It's the law.
2. You only need one estimate to determine the amount of damage.
3. Review your car insurance policy especially regarding car rentals.
4. Verify the insurance company pays for all covered repairs.
5. Take care in choosing the right repair shop because your safety depends on it.
6. Insurance companies have deadlines they must follow regarding the claims process.
Ask questions until you get all of them answered. This is a step toward picking the right body shop.
Here are some phrases you may hear from an insurance company along with an explanation for each.
"The repair shop is not on our network shop list, so we can't guarantee repairs."
First, they are not doing the repairs. We are, and our repairs come with a lifetime guarantee. How can the guarantee repairs when they don't do the actual repairs? We choose not to appear on every insurance company's "network list" because we put vehicle owners first.
Second, the Texas Department of Insurance states, "You have the right to choose the repair shop and replacement parts for your vehicle. An insurance company may not specify the brand, type, kind, age, vendor, supplier, or condition of parts or products used to repair your automobile."
"The repair shop charges more than the going rate, so you'll need to pay the difference."
We go over all costs with you. No work gets done without your approval. With a couple of phone calls to the insurance company, most customers collect the difference. We can help with the phone calls.
"You will have to pay out of pocket for a rental if you use that repair shop."
You should not pay anything for a rental. The insurance company may tell you to pay for the rental and it'll reimburse you later. You do not need to pay for anything for later reimbursement. In fact, many insurance companies have direct bill agreements with rental companies.
"We can't get an adjuster out there for several days using your repair shop. If you take your vehicle to our network shop, someone can start right away."
The Texas Department of Insurance Bill of Rights states that you have the right to prompt processing and payment of claims after reporting the claim. Most car insurance policies include an appraisal clause. "If the insurance company fails to meet required claims processing and payment deadlines, you have the right to collect 18% annual interest and attorney's fees in addition to your claim amount."
"You'll have to wait longer to settle claims if you use the repair shop."
Insurance companies may pay preferred providers quickly than those not on their list, but Texas has a deadline they must follow for all claims. From the Texas Department of Insurance web site:
"Generally, within 15 calendar days, your insurance company must acknowledge receipt of your claim and request any additional information reasonably related to your claim. Within 15 business days after receipt of all requested information, the company must approve or deny your claim in writing. The law allows the insurance company to extend this deadline up to 45 days if it notifies you that more time is needed and tells you why. After notifying you that your claim is approved, your insurance company must pay the claim within 5 business days."
Whatever repair shop you choose, keep these tactics in mind so you can decide what's best for you and your vehicle. You have every right to decide which shop repairs your vehicle.