A Rhode Island body shop was fined $2,500 by the Department of Business Regulation (DBR) for billing Allstate Insurance Co. $4,773 for repairs when the insurer found that the actual repair work performed totaled $2,466, according to a DBR decision filed recently. The DBR told the Providence Journal that the shop is appealing the decision.
In its complaint, Allstate claimed that Dean Auto Body of Providence, Rhode Island, failed to perform 24 items listed on the original vehicle appraisal for a damaged Dodge pickup, which totaled $4,772 – the amount Dean instructed Allstate to pay the insured. During a post-repair inspection, an Allstate appraiser determined that Dean performed $2,466 in repairs – the amount Allstate agreed to pay.
The DBR determined that Dean repaired parts that should have been replaced per the appraisal and that Dean did not have authorization from the truck’s owner to perform less work than the appraisal called for.
“While an insured may opt to be reimbursed for a loss in cash rather than by having his vehicle fully repaired, it is the insured’s option, not that of the auto body shop,” hearing office Elizabeth Kelleher Dwyer said in her decision. “The auto body shop may not make that decision for the insured, and then bill the insured as if the repairs had been fully made.”
In defending itself, Dean claimed that since Allstate never paid the full appraisal amount, there was no proof as to whether the body shop would have kept all of the money or paid part of it back to the vehicle owner.
The DBR determined that Dean engaged in an “unconscionable practice” that violated state law by not performing work called for in the appraisal but still billing for it. The shop paid its $2,500 fine while its appeal is pending, the Journal reported.
• Read the full text of the DBR’s decision