It probably will come as no surprise to collision repair
facilities in the U.S., but shops in Canada are also experiencing steering and
are reaching out to their provincial and federal governments to enact change.
A coalition of collision repair facilities in the
Muskokas region of Ontario recently took out a half-page ad in local newspapers
to alert consumers to their rights under the Insurance Act, including the right
to choose the collision repair facility of their choice.
The shops allege that insurance companies, as a group,
are moving toward the use of one large, "impersonal" direct repair
facility for all collision claims, leaving out other qualified shops in the
After meeting with the concerned shops, Parry
Sound-Muskoka Member of the Provincial Parliament Norm Miller said he was
sympathetic to their issues and asked them to put their concerns in writing so
he could direct them to the relevant authorities, including the Financial Service
Commission of Ontario, the minister of finance and the minister of consumer
Concerned repairers in the U.S. will typically contact
the Department of Insurance (DOI) in their respective state but are often told,
"We don’t get involved in business disputes between insurers and body
shops. We are a consumer protection organization."
"They don’t extend themselves sufficiently to understand that this is a
function of claims handling, for which they do have jurisdiction,” says attorney Erica Eversman.
To complicate matters,
insurance department commissioners usually have insurance industry backgrounds,
which repairers equate to "the fox guarding the henhouse." The shop
must then convince the consumer to file a complaint, which some shops are
hesitant to do. However, the DOI then states they must see a "pattern" of
abuse before they can act and that one single complaint does not constitute a
pattern and will probably not merit action.