A Fort Morgan, Colo., shop owner recently challenged his public officials to take a stand against steering, claiming that a state law that says insurers can’t require repairs be made at a specific business may not be enough to deter insurer steering practices.
To raise awareness of alleged steering in Colorado, Les Linker, owner of Fort Morgan Auto Body, called for a meeting with Morgan County commissioners and representatives from the insurance industry on June 25 to discuss the state’s anti-steering law passed in 2003. Linker believes that despite the law, steering is still affecting shops in his state, the Fort Morgan Times reported.
“You’d have to be blind not to see it,” Linker said at the meeting. “The problem is, are you willing to stand forward and say this is wrong?”
Linker said at the meeting that his main concern is that insurers encourage claimants to use shops that submit the lowest estimates for repairs, compromising repair quality.
“It’s forcing our field to go in the wrong direction,” he said at the meeting. “It’s now about saving money and not repair cars the way they should be.”
Insurance representatives in attendance Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, State Farm representative Brad Hilliard, and Farmers spokesperson Mike Boehm said that the anti-steering law is sufficient as-is, and any incidents of steering go against not only the law but insurance company policies, according to the Times.
Walker recommended that consumers report any incidents of steering by insurers to the Colorado Insurance Commission for investigation. Per state law, only clients can report violations to the Insurance Commission.
Linker suggested holding a public meeting where consumers could discuss their experiences with insurers, and any complaints that arise could be taken to the Insurance Commission for investigation, the Times reported.
“For you to try to open up a public forum in Morgan County is going to create, I think, a nest of hornets you don’t want to see,” Boehm, of Farmer’s Insurance, said.
At the meeting, Linker also claimed that retraining adjusters was the only way to stop steering practices, but State Farm’s Hilliard emphasized that insurance companies don’t train employees to recommend specific shops for repairs.
“We don’t train our adjusters to speak that way,” Hilliard said.
Finally, Linker called for county commissioners to draft a resolution stating that steering is illegal in Morgan County, according to the Times.
“The (state) law says you can’t steer,” Commissioner Brian McCracken said. “I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, I’m just saying the law already says that you can’t do it.”
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