Under Mississippi law, an insurance carrier cannot tell a consumer where to take their collision-damaged vehicle for repair, and an insurer cannot refuse to pay a claim because the consumer took the vehicle to a particular body shop.
These are just a few of the consumer rights outlined in a new guide released by the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office to help consumers navigate the tricky – and often-contentious – relationship between body shops and insurers.
In addition to enumerating consumers’ rights, the Consumer’s Guide to Insurance and Auto Body Repair addresses what consumers should expect from their insurance carriers and body shops, how to choose a shop, and the different types of repair costs and warranties.
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said the state’s Consumer Protection Division fields consumer complaints about disputes between insurance carriers and collision repairers.
He noted that because today’s vehicles incorporate “space-age” materials, the procedures, machines and training needed for body shops to perform a proper repair have become “very technical and expensive.” At the same time, the goal of insurance carriers is to keep repair prices as low as they can.
“Therein lies the conflict for consumers to navigate,” Hood said. “Our goal is to help consumers be aware of issues and understand their rights in the repair process.”
The guide explains that a proper repair is one that adheres to OEM repair procedures and uses OEM or OEM-equivalent parts that meet the manufacturer’s specifications.
“It is the duty of your insurance company (or the third party’s insurance company) to pay for a proper repair,” the guide explains. “It is the auto body repair shop’s responsibility to make the proper repair.”
Task Force Included Shops, Insurers
The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office created the guide with help from a task force consisting of collision repairers, insurers, OEMs, aftermarket parts manufacturers and others. The task force, which had been working on the guide since August 2016, included John Mosley, owner of Clinton Body Shop in Clinton and Richland, Miss.
“At the end of the day, General Hood and his staff seem to understand the complexity of the new vehicle construction and the necessity for proper repairs to satisfy the demands of new vehicle technology,” Mosley says in a Facebook post. “The days of ‘the cheapest price is the price we pay’ [have] reached an end. When you need collision repairs, do your research and make your shop choice based on reputation. Don’t stop there. Educate yourself to your vehicle’s needs. Find out if the shop is capable of making a proper repair. This guide will help you understand your choices and your options.
“On behalf of all Mississippians, I thank Attorney General Jim Hood for the hard work put forth by his staff and for his integrity. It is refreshing to know an elected official is doing what he or she feels best serves the people who elect them.”