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Monday, 10 November 2014 00:00

OK AG Warns of Insurance Companies 'Steering' Consumers to 'Substandard' Body Shops

Attorney General Scott Pruitt issued a warning to Oklahomans on Nov. 6 regarding the practice of "steering" - where insurers strongly push consumers to body shops that may provide substandard service to consumers.

 Click HERE to download a PDF of Chasidy Rae Sisk's article.

The Oklahoma AG is looking into reports that certain insurers are coercing Oklahomans into using body shops that may use salvaged parts or other substandard materials to make repairs, while claiming to use new parts or materials made by the automobile manufacturer. In many instances, the use of so-called "after-market" parts voids automobile manufacturer warranties. Such parts also may not meet manufacturer specifications and potentially could fail in the future.

Many insurers strongly push consumers to have repairs completed at approved repair shops. AG Pruitt is concerned that some insurance companies may be crossing the line, making dishonest statements in the steering of consumers, and knowingly guiding consumers to repair shops that make substandard repairs.

"It is important to the safety of Oklahomans that insurance companies and repair shops are honest and upfront with their customers about the repair process," Attorney General Pruitt said. "As a consumer, you have the right to know what repairs are being made to your vehicle and the origin of the parts that are being used to repair it. A majority of auto body repair shops and insurance companies are reputable, honest and respect the difficulty of having a vehicle repaired. However, my office will hold accountable any shops or insurance companies who would seek to defraud Oklahomans through the illegal practice of steering. I encourage anyone who feels they have been a victim of such deceptive practices to contact the Attorney General's Office immediately."

The Attorney General's Public Protection Unit urged consumers to consider the following tips when having their vehicle repaired:
- Consumers do not have to go to an insurance company's "preferred" or "approved" auto body repair shop.

- It is your car and your choice where to repair it. The insurer is responsible for the reasonable cost of restoring your car to pre-accident condition.

- A warranty on a repair is made between a consumer and the body shop, not the insurance company.- You pay the same deductible wherever you go.

- When selecting an auto body repair shop, get referrals from friends, family, neighbors or co-workers - someone without a vested interest in your decision.

- Never be afraid to ask questions or request information, interview the repair shop or ask for a tour.

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