WTAE in Pittsburgh has joined the coverage of an ongoing lawsuit accusing insurance companies of forcing collision repair facilities to fix vehicles that have been involved in accidents with used parts.
Body shops nationwide say these practices are putting drivers in peril.
WTAE spoke with Adam Elias of Canonsburg, Pa., who noticed many problems after his van was repaired following an accident.
“The headlight was one issue. We actually had condensation building up on the inside immediately as soon as we got the vehicle back,” said Elias.
And as for the replacement hood, “It looked like a cheap part,” he said.
According to WTAE, Elias wanted to get his van fixed at Kilkeary’s Auto Body, where he was a regular customer. But he said his insurance company, GEICO, strongly encouraged him to use one of their “preferred providers.”
“They said if you want the work to be guaranteed, that’s where you’ve got to go,” said Elias.
After Elias complained about the repairs done by the shop, GEICO allowed him to take his van to Kilkeary’s. WTAE found that they fixed the faulty repairs at a cost of $4,000, which GEICO covered.
“We found some things that clearly were not right,” said shop owner Tim Kilkeary.
He replaced the hood, headlight and a fender. All were either reconditioned or aftermarket parts, Kilkeary explained.
A lawsuit filed by Kilkeary and other body shops says GEICO and other major insurance companies force shops to install “used and or recycled parts rather than new parts, even when new parts are available and a new part would be the best and highest quality repair to the vehicle.”
Body shops involved in the lawsuit also say they’re forced to use aftermarket parts.
An insurance industry group released a statement to WTAE that said, “Insurers do not have any incentive to promote the practice of using inferior or unsafe parts in auto body repair work, nor to encourage customers to utilize repair shops that do substandard work.”
The statement goes on to say, “Consumers ultimately have the choice on where they want to get repair work done.”
However, Elias said he didn’t feel like he had much choice at all. “You’re paying insurance monthly. You should have that choice,” he said.
Elias said he doesn’t want used or aftermarket parts in any vehicle carrying his family.
“I would like my vehicle to be just the way it was before the accident, when it’s repaired from an accident,” he said.
Kilkeary explained that he returns 90 percent of the aftermarket or recycled parts that come into his shop because, according to him, they’re defective.
WTAE reported that GEICO refused to comment and has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
View the original story and news report here.