AGs, auto shops allege car insurance companies push for unsafe repairs

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There are major state and federal lawsuits underway. If your car is ever damaged in an accident and repaired through a major insurance company in the U.S., these lawsuits may be of interest.

Auto body shops across the U.S., more than 500 of them, claimed big insurance companies have deliberately skimped when it comes to repairing damaged vehicles so the companies can pad their profits.

The lawsuits alleged it’s a scheme that can lead to rushed and minimal repairs, as well as repairs that include using recycled, re-manufactured, or as one lawyer puts it “junk parts.”

CNN senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin reported some attorneys general believe the alleged scheme may have another effect: people could be driving a dangerous car.

To see what’s really going on, you’ve got to do something you probably can’t do at home. You would have to lift your “repaired” car, get out something called a boroscope and check inside the car, inside the frame, to see if the auto body shop fixed it – the auto body shop your insurance company most likely recommended.

Bill Byrne, a national auto repair expert, testifies in court about bad repairs. He said it’s the result of a system designed to save money for insurance companies.

“What they did was they replaced the new end cap on there and the end cap actually covers that, so the consumer would never see this,” he said of one vehicle. “It is unsafe.”

The case he talked about was one that had been put back on the road.Byrnes is part of a lawsuit involving more than 500 auto body shops in 36 states, all suing dozens of insurance companies across the country. The shops believe the insurance industry is involved in a deliberate system to send cars to shops that are pre-selected by insurers to do the bare minimum to fix it – even telling body shops to use “used or recycled parts,” because they’re cheaper.

Matt Parker is an auto shop owner in Monroe, LA. He said State Farm told him to use a “remanufactured” headlight in a Toyota Tacoma.

“It’s got a hole in it here, and then you can see where they screwed this bracket back on the vehicle,” he said of the headlight. “You can see here where all these parts were knocked off and glued back together. You can also see here where lens is broken and part of the light is broken.”

Parker said the part came out of a box, like it was supposed to be a new part.

“The insurance company wants us to put this stuff on their cars,” he said. “If we refuse to use the part, then they label us as a shop not willing to go along with their program and then they try to steer our business away from us.”

Parker and other shop owners retained John Arthur Eaves to sue.

“Every state in the union has experienced the same sort of struggle here between the body shops trying to do the work the right way, and the insurance companies trying to cut corners and force them to use unsafe parts and unsafe methods on their cars,” Eaves said.

Attorneys general Jim Hood of Mississippi and Buddy Caldwell of Louisiana believe it, too.

Mississippi is preparing a lawsuit. Louisiana has already filed, claiming State Farm’s practice is putting drivers in danger.

Caldwell said after-market parts and junkyard parts were being used without any communication with the consumer.


Travelers Labordispute says:

Only the tip of the iceberg…
A whistleblower will provide the evidence.

Travelers Labordispute says:

Only the tip of the iceberg…
A whistleblower will provide the evidence.

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