Allstate Insurance Company recently was found guilty of interfering with a claimant’s choice of repair shop by the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation (DBR) and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.
In a complaint filed by Providence Auto Body on behalf of a claimant who was in an accident with an Allstate-insured driver, the body shop alleged that Allstate "interfered with the claimant’s free choice of repair facility,” which state law defines as an unfair business practice.
Providence Auto Body, which doesn’t have a DRP contract with Allstate, alleged that an Allstate claims representative hindered the repair process by:
Not contacting the claimant about the accident until seven days after Providence Auto Body called Allstate to inform the insurer that the shop would be repairing the claimant’s vehicle.
Failing to mention to the claimant that Providence Auto Body had previously been in contact with Allstate regarding the claim. Instead, the claims rep repeatedly requested that the claimant take his vehicle to an Allstate drive-in claim center. When the claimant said he wanted Providence Auto Body to perform repairs on his vehicle, the claims rep insisted it would be “quicker” to have the vehicle assessed through Allstate’s center.
Stalling further during the call by placing the claimant on hold to check if Providence Auto Body was “approved” by Allstate, which the DBR concluded the claims rep could have done “at any point” before the phone call with the claimant.
Saying that Providence Auto Body was not an “approved” shop with no further explanation.
Failing to schedule a damage assessment with Providence Auto Body for over two weeks after speaking with the claimant for “no legitimate business reason.”
In the end, the claimant paid for the repairs using his own insurance rather than deal with Allstate.
According to the DBR, Allstate’s handling of the claim constituted “interference.” The DBR also found that Allstate failed to notify the claimant of his free choice of repair facility, another violation of state law. The DBR ordered Allstate to cease and desist its unfair business practices and pay the $5,000 fine.
Download the full text of the DBR’s decision