The Hartford Plans to Appeal $15 Million Decision - BodyShop Business

The Hartford Plans to Appeal $15 Million Decision

After the Stamford, Conn., Superior Court handed down a $15-million verdict against The Hartford Insurance Co. this week for engaging in a pattern of business practices that violated state law, the insurer says it plans to appeal the decision.

In the class action suit – originally filed by Auto Body Association of Connecticut (ABAC) shops in 2003 – a jury awarded a group of body shops $15 million after finding that The Hartford artificially suppressed body shop labor rates by eliminating the use of independent appraisers and relying exclusively on its own automobile service representatives to perform appraisals so the company could control their content, including labor rates.

“We are disappointed with the verdict as it relates to labor rates for auto body repair, and we will ask the court to overturn that decision,” said Tom Hambrick, spokesperson for The Hartford.

Celebrating the court’s decision was Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who is known as a vocal advocate of repairers’ and consumers’ rights and has called for a federal investigation of alleged insurance company steering tactics.

"This ruling reaffirms what we already know – when it comes to automobile repairs, insurance companies are unfairly dictating the prices and the places,” Blumenthal said. “By law, appraisers should be independent – uninfluenced by insurance companies and their profits. A jury has agreed that The Hartford has placed undue pressure on appraisers, interfered with consumer choice on repairs and deprived consumers of independent assessments.”

However, Hambrick noted one victory for The Hartford in the case. In its decision, the court appeared to not directly address the lawsuit’s allegations that the insurer illegally steered customers to its preferred shops (per the Hartford Courant). In the lawsuit, ABAC claimed that employees of The Hartford were instructed to direct the customers to a preferred shop in the insurer’s Customer Care Repair Service Program and that consumers were often pressured to abandon their choices in favor of The Hartford’s DRP shops.

“We are pleased, however, that the jury appears to have recognized the benefits that The Hartford’s direct repair program provides to our customers and affirmed that the operation of that program complies with Connecticut law, " Hambrick said. “It is important to us that our customers have a choice and access to a program that provides great service."

Attorneys for ABAC say their next step is to ask the court for “injunctive relief” to address The Hartford’s business practices.

“This lawsuit was an attempt to change the way business is done in this industry,” said Attorney David Slossberg of Hurwitz, Sagarin, Slossberg and Knuff, of Milford, co-counsel for ABAC.

More information:

• The Hartford Ordered to Pay Connecticut Repairers $15 Million

• Connecticut Repairers Win Unanimous Supreme Court Decision on Steering

Auto Body Association of Connecticut

You May Also Like

Cruise Postpones Release of Driverless Taxi Service

Cruise, a GM subsidiary, recently announced that it will miss its goal of launching a large-scale self-driving taxi service in 2019.

Cruise, a GM subsidiary, recently announced that it will miss its goal of launching a large-scale self-driving taxi service in 2019. Cruise CEO Dan Ammann said the company plans to dramatically increase the number of its autonomous test vehicles on the road in San Francisco, but will not be offering rides to regular people this year, according to an article from The Verge.

Cutting Edge Automotive Solutions Partners with Andretti Rallycross

Andretti Rallycross announced that Cutting Edge Automotive Solutions will serve as technical partner on Cabot Bigham’s No. 02 OINK Clothing Beetle for the remainder of the 2019 Americas Rallycross season, showcasing their SP Tools USA brand.

Ford, Volkswagen Expand Collaboration to Include Autonomous, Electric Vehicles

Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen AG announced they are expanding their global alliance to include electric vehicles – and will collaborate with Argo AI to introduce autonomous vehicle technology in the U.S. and Europe.

CCAR Updates Website with More OSHA Alliance Resources

CCAR (Coordinating Committee For Automotive Repair) has announced the addition of new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Alliance content on its main website,

CARSTAR McLaren Lake Forest and CARSTAR McLaren Irvine Open in California

Owned by husband-and-wife team James and Mary Davis, CARSTAR McLaren Lake Forest and CARSTAR McLaren Irvine are a family business.

Other Posts

CIECA to Offer Webinar on What Businesses Need to Know to Implement CIECA Standards

CIECA will hold its next CIECAst webinar, “Implementing CIECA Standards: Implementation Guide and Appendix C – BMS, Code Lists and Shema Components,” on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018 at 11 a.m. CST.

CARSTAR Urges Customers to Stay Winter Ready

Cold weather can create some of the harshest driving conditions of the year. The months between October and February top the list for accidents, vehicle damage and injuries.

CIECA Adds Broadly as Corporate Member

The Collision Industry Electronic Commerce Association (CIECA) announced that Broadly has joined CIECA as a corporate member.

NABR Launches BillableGenie Online Searchable Database of Insurer-Paid Not-Included Procedures

National AutoBody Research (NABR) has announced the launch of its BillableGenie online service, an independent, centralized source of actual data on insurer paid not-included procedures and operations, labor rates, labor rate concessions and other manually entered estimate line items.