Do you have to take your vehicle to a Body shop that your Insurance Company recommends?
Your insurance company cannot require or demand that you have the repairs made at a certain body shop of their choice, They are only able to suggest a direct repair shop or through their DRP (direct repair program). In fact, Ontario law is very clear, and insurers are required to tell you that it is ultimately your choice where you choose to repair your vehicle:
Ontario Law, very clearly prohibits any Insurance Company from Requiring you to get your repairs performed at a particular motor vehicle repair shop. Only the owner of the Vehicle has the right to select the Motor Vehicle Repair Shop of their Choice.
Do I have to take my vehicle to a drive-in claims center or get multiple appraisals?
No. If you request it, your insurer must inspect the damage to your vehicle at your chosen collision repair shop rather than at their drive-in claims center.
They are legally prohibited ( However, still very commonly do) from coercing you, or using many Company implimented tactics that are designed to sway you from seeking damage appraisals from your own trusted body shop rather than their "drive-in centers", or "home parking lot Appraisals".
Choosing a repair facility based on an amount of an initial estimate is the worst way to begin to get your vehicle repaired. You should base you decision on how thorough and professionally the person handle your situation is.
Always remember that the objective of repairing your car after a collision is to restore it to pre-accident condition.
What is Steering? And how do I know if I am being "Steered" by my Insurance?
If you are told that it will take longer to get your car repaired or cost more if you choose your own shop, BEWARE. You are probably being steered.
Comments such as "We won't reimburse paint and materials," or "We don't pay that rate," or "We won´t guarantee the work if you bring the car there," or "We won´t pay the difference" are misleading and untrue.
Ontario has strong consumer protection laws that require insurance companies to expedite appraisals within specific time frames. Insurance companies are required to negotiate in good faith with any registered collision repair facility on the proper cost to repair the vehicle to pre-accident condition.
You pay insurance premiums and contract to pay a specific deductible in the event repairs are required. In effect, you´ve already paid for proper repairs.
Don´t be intimidated. Steering is illegal in Ontario.
What is an "Insurance Preferred" or "Insurance DRP" Shop?
The inside scoop on "Insurance Preferred" or "DRP"
Did you know that someone is making concessions regarding YOUR vehicles repairs on YOUR behalf without YOUR knowledge or permission? Even before your accident has taken place!
That "someone" would be your Insurance Company and their Preferred Direct Repair Shop. These shops get consumers "directed" to them by your Insurance Company in return for concessions on repairs and more: (Cutting Costs) such as aftermarket parts, methods of repair and labour rate reductions that may compromise your vehicle and its Overall Value, once repairs are completed.
Direct Repair Shops or Preferred Insurance Shops perform repairs according to contracts that they sign with your Insurance Company, Not with you!
Makes you think, Are they working in the their best interest, or yours?
Why should I choose my own trusted Collision repair facility,
Rather than one "suggested" by my insurance company?
There are compelling reasons to choose an independent, trusted repair shop that you know of, or has been referred to you by a trusted friend that you know will make sure the vehicle is truly restored to its pre-accident condition.
Insurance appraisers work for the insurance company. Independent auto collision repair facilities work for you.
They are looking out for your best interest. They will negotiate directly with the insurance company for the proper repairs so that your vehicle is safe for you and your family. Quality Independent collision repairers look out for your interests, and will serve as your advocate in the repair process.
Preferred or referral repair shops represent the insurance company in both negotiations and the repair of the vehicle.
They contract with insurance companies regarding the repairs, the costs and the repair procedures.
The insurance company sets the rules, and the repair shop simply follows them to keep the insurance companies’ costs down.
These cost reductions have to come from somewhere. They may affect the quality and thoroughness of the repair service and/or the quality and condition of the parts used.
You have paid your insurance premiums with the expectation of receiving safe and proper repairs – not cheap repairs.
What are Imitation or Non-OEM parts?
Imitation parts (aka generic, aftermarket, quality replacement or non-original equipment manufacturer) are "knockoff" parts made by a company other than the one who manufactured of your vehicle. These parts are made to look like your vehicles parts, but may never have been crash tested and are not covered under your vehicle manufacturer's warranty. In its February 1999 issue Consumer Reports, published the results of its extensive study of Non-OEM parts. The cover story was entitled, Shoddy Auto Parts: How to beat car repair rip-offs, Bumpers that shatter, Parts that don't fit, Fenders that rust.
In addition to these concerns, there are no provisions for recalls based on the safety or performance of these parts. Your Insurance company may attempt to use imitation parts to save money on your vehicles repairs. An independent collision repair facility will help you negotiate with your insurance company for the appropriate original equipment manufacturers parts to maintain the integrity and value of your vehicle.
Who guarantees the workmanship for the repairs?
Only the repair facility (Independent or Insurance DRP) is responsible for the workmanship and the guarantee for the repairs done to your vehicle. If your insurance company claims "they will not guarantee the repairs," if the vehicle is not repaired at one of their DRP shops, this would also be classified under "STEERING" the consumer and using their financial leverage to persuade unsuspecting and usually frightened individuals who just want to get their car fixed and put the whole bad situation behind them.
Don't settle for general repairs usually offered by Insurance Companies, It is your right! Choose your repair facility diligently as your vehicles Value and longevity depends on it!
What can I do to protect my rights?
If you are having a problem with your assigned Insurance Claim representative or feel that your rights are not being respected, you can ask to speak to a Claims supervisor to possibly settle the matter sooner. If you still feel like your concerns were not addressed, You can escalate your concerns by asking to speak directly to the National Director of Claims for your Insurance Company and voicing your legal right and expected outcome.
Let them know that you value your rights and do not want to lose them.
Remember, you pay for insurance. No one has the right to deny you the repairs necessary to restore your vehicle to pre-accident condition. It is important to voice your opinion and retain your rights!
In Canada we also have an Insurance Bureau that over looks Insurance Companies and protects our Rights as Insured's.
They can be reached at:
INSURANCE BUREAU OF CANADA
777 Bay Street, Suite 2400
P.O. Box 121
Toronto ON. M5G 2C8
Consumer information:Tel: 416-362-9528 Toll Free: 1-800-387-2880 ext. 4700
Deny, Delay & Defend. Not very "Good Hands" your in, nor are they your "Friendly Neighbour"
When an insurance claim is denied, you should strongly consider speaking with a car accident lawyer. Your attorney can help you to talk to your insurance company, find out what the problem with your claim was, and fix that problem so you can get the benefits to which you’re entitled. If you choose to hire an attorney, you can expect him or her to work on a contingency fee. This means you pay no fees up front, but you agree to pay the lawyer a percentage of the settlement if he or she successfully handles your case. In cases of insurance denial, it’s absolutely worth the cost of legal representation. See below: CNN's Anderson Cooper Investigative report about questionable auto insurance practices.