As a part of our service to our clients who are victims of automobile or motorcycle accidents we handle the property damages portion of the claim without charge when we also handle the personal injury claim. We have received recent complaints that “preferred insurance” auto body shops are being suggested by several insurance adjusters. We have also received reports of adjusters threatening to cut off or take away a rental car if the vehicle is not towed to a certain shop.
However Montana Law is very clear on this. Sec. 33-18-224 Designation of specific automobile body repair businesses prohibited. “An insurance company including its producers and adjusters, that issues or renews a policy of insurance in this state covering, in whole or in part, a motor vehicle may not:
(i) require that a claimant under the policy use a particular automobile body repair business or location for an estimate or a repair; or
(ii) engage in any act or practice that intimidates, coercers or threatens a claimant or that provides an incentive or inducement for a claimant to use a particular automobile body repair business or locations .
(c) Upon request, the insurance company shall provide, without prejudice or bias, the claimant with a list that includes all automobile body repair businesses or locations that are reasonably close or convenient to the claimant . . .
Many times insurance companies will in even subtle ways suggest a preferred shop or recommend a shop. This is strictly prohibited. If you have a auto damage claim in Montana your interests are in finding the best possible repair shop available.
In my 18 years of experience as a Montana Personal Injury Lawyer in Kalispell, Whitefish and Columbia Falls I have found a few shops that work with the insurance company and repeatedly overlook certain items which cannot be seen such as transmission damage, frame damage, engine damage. They may also use inferior parts or techniques, which are not up to industry standards. While, all of the auto body shops in Flathead County, Montana say they guarantee their work, I have received repeated complaints about having to bring the vehicle back for extended time periods without the problem being fixed, or being told its not covered.
In fact there are some excellent, high end auto body repair shops here in the Flathead Valley that pride themselves on a reputation of excellence. If an item is questioned by the insurance adjuster, they give the claimant the benefit of the doubt and fix it. Their goal is to do a great job as their manner of advertising to their clients. Also as part of our full service philosophy we help guide our clients to the best available shop for their needs. We don’t care about the insurance companies only our clients. You are entitled to a comparable rental vehicle. Therefore if you had a pickup truck that was wrecked in an auto accident the insurance company has to pay for a similar vehicle such as another pickup truck.
You do not have to get three estimates, nor do you need to chose the lowest.
Many people believe they have to get three comparative estimates. Some insurance adjusters lead them to this belief in the hope that you will chose their shop which will cut corners to get the insurance company business. Montana Law allows you to pick which shop to take your vehicle to for repair and you do not need to get any comparative estimates.
There are many things that can substantially decrease the value of an insurance claim. Often it starts out with a recorded statement where seemingly harmless questions come back to haunt you. If you have been injured in a Montana Automobile accident we can help. We will take care of the statement for you and coordinating the vehicle damage settlement, repairs and rental car. If you have been injured we offer these services without charge when we handle your injury case.