Auto Body Repair Shops
Under California insurance Code §758.5 an insurance company cannot require that an automobile be repaired at a specific repair shop. However, an insurance company can recommend that an automobile be repaired at a specific repair shop under the following conditions outlined by law:
- The consumer specifically requests a recommendation from the insurance company to a repair shop.
- The consumer has been informed in writing of the right to select a repair shop of his or her choice.
- If the consumer agrees to use the recommended repair shop, the insurance company must restore the damaged vehicle to its condition prior to the accident or loss with no additional cost other than as stated in the policy or as otherwise allowed by law.
- If the company makes an oral recommendation to a repair shop, and it is accepted by the consumer, then the company must follow the oral recommendation with the prescribed written notice within five calendar days as specified by law.
If the vehicle is repaired in a shop chosen by the consumer, then the insurance company must pay the reasonable costs to repair the vehicle in a workmanlike manner. The insurance company is prohibited from limiting or discounting reasonable repair costs based on charges that would have occurred if the vehicle had been repaired at the company's recommended repair shop. Also, the insurance company must stand behind the repairs of the recommended shop if the vehicle is not repaired properly.
Auto Replacement Parts
In some cases an auto repair may include replacement of damaged parts with after-market parts. After-market parts are parts which are not made by the original manufacturer. After-market parts may be equal, better, or worse in quality than original equipment manufacturer parts. Although non-original equipment manufactured replacement parts can be used to repair your vehicle, any such part must be comparable to original equipment manufactured parts in terms of kind, quality, safety, fit, and performance. Consumers should take note of the following:
- An auto repair shop is required to provide a written repair estimate of the cost of repairs prior to initiating repairs to the vehicle. Once the work is completed, the shop must then provide a written repair invoice. State law requires that the type of auto parts used in repairs must be identified on the repair invoice. Consumers should carefully check their invoice to ensure that the auto body shop has identified each auto part replaced as being used, reconditioned, rebuilt, an original equipment manufactured part, or an after-market part.
If you feel the company is not responsive to you, or there is an unreasonable delay in settling your claim, then please contact the Department of Insurance.