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Know Your Rights: Vehicle Repair Following an Accident

Insurance Companies Work for Their Own Best Interests

Automobile insurance companies will use just about any tactic to keep the money you pay toward your premiums in their pockets.  From the meager premium refunds given during the pandemic to making low ball offers on personal injury claims, there are no cost-saving avenues left unexplored.  GEICO, Progressive, etc. need wads of cash for their advertising budgets so they can lure in more customers to pay more premiums.  If you have ever been the unfortunate party to an automobile accident, you may already know that these cost-cutting tactics become apparent early on, during the vehicle repair phase.

Most of the time, the insurance company will recommend a specific body shop for your car repair.  While they probably do not communicate that you MUST take your car to their recommended shop, they may try to persuade you to do so.  Out of convenience and a false assumption that it is in the vehicle owner’s best interest, many consumers take their vehicles to the recommended shop.  Our law firm always recommends that our clients take their vehicles to their own preferred repair facility, as is their legal right.

In the past few years, there have been lawsuits filed against several insurance companies alleging unfair practices associated with their use of specific body shops, shoddy repair work, and the use of faulty refurbished parts.

Know Your Vehicle Repair Rights

Here are some facts you should know if you need to have your car repaired following an automobile accident:

  • The California Insurance Code says a consumer does not have to use insurance-recommended repair facilities.  In other words, you have the right to decide where to take your vehicle for repairs.
  • If the consumer does decide to use the vehicle repair shop recommended by the claims adjuster, the insurance company is required to correct the situation if the repairs are not done properly.

A Written Estimate is Required

California law also governs that a written estimate for repairs must be produced and authorization from the consumer must be given before work on the vehicle is commenced and/or charges begin accruing.

  • The estimate for parts and labor must include whether Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) or non-OEM aftermarket parts will be used in the repair.
  • The consumer shall not be charged for parts supplied or work done in excess of the amount indicated on the written estimate without written or oral consent from the vehicle owner.
  • If oral consent is given, the date, time, telephone number (if applicable) and name of the person giving consent for additional charges must be noted on the work order and invoice.  The notation must also include with specificity the additional labor and parts and the sum of the additional charges.

Replacement Parts

Many consumers do not want non-OEM parts used in their vehicle repair.  Aftermarket parts are not always a bad thing, and sometimes the OEM part is just not available.  Regardless, the consumer has the right to know and approve the use of such parts.  California law requires that parts used in repair must be identified with specificity, including whether it is OEM, non-OEM aftermarket, new or used, rebuilt, or reconditioned.

The Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations state that if a non-OEM part was used in the repair, insurance companies must warrant that the non-OEM parts are at least equivalent to the OEM parts with regard to quality, kind, fit, safety, and performance.

Below is a 2015 report on allegations that insurance company’s skimp on repairs in order to keep more of your premium money.

Sacramento Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Injury Lawyer.  Fewer cars on the road often mean faster cars on the road.  If you or a loved one have been injured by a negligent, careless driver, please reach out to me at 916-921-6400 or 800-404-5400.  I offer friendly and free advice at no obligation.

I am a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

Client reviews can be read at AvvoYelp, Google.  Here is a sample of our past verdicts and settlements.

photo: https://pixabay.com/photos/car-repair-car-workshop-repair-shop-362150/

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