New York City CW affiliate WPIX-TV Channel 11 recently aired an investigative report about insurance companies’ alleged steering tactics, highlighting a lawsuit between Greg Coccaro owner of North State Custom body shop in Bedford Hills, N.Y. and Progressive Insurance, and a drop in business experienced by Personal Touch Autobody owner Mike Trinagel of the Bronx.
Coccaro, who is suing Progressive for $40 million for alleged steering, obtained an audio recording of a Progressive adjuster speaking to a customer and shared it with Channel 11 reporter Mary Murphy.
“Understand in you choosing this shop, you’re accepting all the difficulties that are going to come with it, and I guarantee there will be,” the adjuster allegedly said.
Progressive is also suing Coccaro for fraud relating to a contested repair bill. Coccaro said in the report that he believes customers sacrifice quality repairs for quicker repairs when insurance companies influence them to use “preferred” shops.
Trinagel said that since he isn’t a DRP participant, he loses many customers to insurance company influence. One frustrated Personal Touch customer said he was told he wouldn’t get a repair appointment unless he went to a Geico-approved repair facility instead of Personal Touch. He asked: “Why can’t I go to the shop I choose?”
“The insurance companies are intimidating people into going to preferred shops,” Trinagel told Murphy. “Liberty Mutual has told my customers they’ll send a tow truck over to pick up their car from my shop.”
Trinagel said he tries to combat alleged steering by educating customers, reminding them they do have a choice when it comes to auto body repair. He invested thousands of dollars in a Web site and a large, ticker-style sign on the front of his business.
Trinagel also posted a sign outlining New York state insurance law, stating, “An insurance company can not require that repair be made to a motor vehicle in a particular place or repair shop. You have the right to have your vehicle repaired in the shop of your choice.”
To watch the clip, click HERE. Scroll down to “Fact Finders: Insurance Companies Deal with Repair Shops” in the video section.