It’s a touchy topic and one that you hope to never have to experience. Being in a vehicular accident can be one of the most stressful of life’s experiences. You’re injured, your car needs to be repaired, and now you have to deal with the insurance company. Basically, insurance steering is when your vehicle’s insurance provider tries to steer you to specific automotive repair services, because they’re going to be directly benefitting if they do so. This practice is controlled state-by-state and is generally illegal.
Think about conflict-of-interest situations. Do you want to send your damaged vehicle to an auto body shop that the insurance company is recommending? Why are they doing that? Can they benefit? Yes, it turns out, there are many reasons why an insurance company may do that. The main reason is that it’s going to be a lot cheaper for them to pay for your vehicle’s repairs.
But you may be thinking, “I don’t care as long as my car is fixed”. However, the quality of services may be at issue. Who is on the hook if your car is returned to you, but the engine fails two days later? Will the mechanic back up the work? Will the insurance company pay to have it fixed correctly? You can begin to see how there may be issues that arise.
Just how can you prevent insurance steering? When you’re dealing with your insurance claim, there are some things to watch for.
Your insurance company may make promises. They may say that if you go to a specific automotive shop that not only will they expedite the inspection of your damaged vehicle, but they’ll also get you a car rental immediately.
The insurance company may use threats. They may cover your $1000 repair, but only if you use their car repair shop. If not, they’ll only cover a percentage, and you’ll be on the hook to pay the remainder. They may also refuse to provide some vehicle repairs unless you do it at their body shop.
The insurance company may threaten that your vehicle’s repairs will not be covered under warranty, unless you use their repair shop. This is one of the shadier aspects of insurance steering which is not only illegal, but ridiculous. Auto repairs are covered by the automotive business, and not the insurance company.
You may also use your intuition. If something doesn’t sound right, be sure to question it. Most of these steering tactics are illegal in most states, yet that doesn’t stop the insurance company from attempting them.
Remember that if you agree to send your car to the insurance company’s recommended shop, that you have provided consent to do so. At this point it’s too late to do anything. This is how they get away with insurance steering.
You should get at least three different quotes from different auto body shops. Ask them for advice. You have the legal right to take your vehicle to any business of your choosing, and the insurance company is still obligated to cover the repair as dictated by your policy. Know your rights and ask for advice when needed.