The advocacy group Texas Watch is urging the Texas Department of Insurance to investigate insurer steering, and “to hold industry wrongdoers accountable” when they strong-arm consumers to preferred body shops and push for cut-rate repairs.
“When insurers steer the public to their preferred body shops, whether directly or indirectly through financial pressure tactics, and then push body shops to make cheap, substandard repairs, the consequences are devastating,” Texas Watch Executive Director Ware Wendell says in a letter to the agency.
The letter implores the Texas Department of Insurance to take “vigorous enforcement action” to discourage the practice and “uphold the agency’s statutory duty to ‘protect and ensure the fair treatment of consumers.’”
In a recently filed lawsuit, a Dallas body shop asserts that State Farm pressured the shop to cut costs by using an adhesive to replace a hail-damaged vehicle roof, instead of welding the roof as recommended by the OEM. The owners of the car allege that the shoddy repair exacerbated the vehicle damage and the severity of their injuries when they were involved in a collision.
“Recent reporting demonstrates the tragic consequences of insurance companies pressuring drivers into using industry-preferred body shops where insurers can push for cheap, substandard repairs,” Texas Watch Deputy Director Tori Sommerman said in a news release. “The purpose of insurance is to have our property, safety, and lives restored after a crash. When insurers prioritize the bottom line, and pressure body shops into unsafe, shoddy repairs, Texans’ lives are put at risk.”