In the wake of a hailstorm that created havoc for Mississippi residents left with damaged homes and cars, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood sent a letter to all insurance companies asking them to cover restoration of vehicles damaged by the hailstorm.
In the letter, Hood asks all insurance companies conducting business in the state to pay for necessary procedures to restore recently damaged vehicles to their pre-accident conditions.
After a recent hailstorm left numerous Mississippi residents with damage to their businesses, homes and vehicles, Hood's office received reports that some insurance companies were not including certain procedures that would restore vehicles to pre-accident condition in their estimates.
In addition, a survey of more than 30 body shops indicated that claims for repairs deemed necessary by the insurance companies' own manuals and/or estimating software are not being included in estimates. The body shops have stated that they will not make these repairs without payment from the insurance companies.
The letter from Jim Hood reads as:
Dear Mr. Counsel,
A recent hail storm in Mississippi caused significant damage to many Mississippians' businesses, automobiles, and homes. Our office has received reports that some insurance companies are issuing estimates that do not include certain automobile repair procedures specified by the insurance companies' own manuals and/or software as necessary to return vehicles to their pre-accident condition.
Furthermore, our office has survey responses from over thirty auto-body repair shops. The survey results indicate that claims for certain repairs specified as necessary by the insurance companies' own manuals and/or software, such as feather, block and prime, denib and finnese, masking of jambs, broken glass clean up, and more are not being included in estimates issued to the insureds. These auto-body repair shops have not agreed to make these required repairs without payment by the insurers.
The refusal to include in an estimate the work required by the insurance companies' own manuals and/or software to return vehicles to their pre-accident condition has created an environment for companies potentially to take unfair advantage of insureds and/or auto-body repair shops. The inconvenience and financial damage to property caused by the hail storm should not be compounded by the shift of covered expenses onto the automobile owner or auto-body repair shop. All insurance companies should be aware that such practices could subject the companies to civil or criminal penalties.
Therefore, I am asking you to take whatever steps are necessary to correct this inconsistency in your business practices. Please communicate to your staff the necessity to consult the procedure pages provided by your chosen manual and/or software and your responsibility to pay for repairs according to the labor allowances provided by your databases. Your cooperation in protecting Mississippi individuals and businesses is greatly appreciated. If you have any questions, please contact the Consumer Protection Division at 601-359-4230.