Do You Truly Know Your Rights?
Here is how to submit a complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance:
- Go to the Texas Department of Insurance online complaint page on the link we are providing below.
- Look on the left-hand side near the middle of the page.
- Click on “Online Form” and adhere to a simple set of instructions.
- You will receive a prompt response and your complaint will be addressed.
TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE
P.O. BOX 149091
AUSTIN, TX 78714-9091
Fax Number: 512-475-1771
Web Address: http://www.tdi.texas.gov/consumer/complfrm.html
The Law States:
“(I) The verbal notice at a minimum must consist of the following:
By law, you have the right to select where your motor vehicle is repaired and the parts used for repairs. However, an insurance company is not required to pay more than a reasonable amount for such repairs and parts. your rights concerning motor vehicle repairs are explained in the insurance code, article 5.07-1, a copy of which will be mailed to you within 15 business days on request.”
Section 5.501 was adopted to become effective on August 17, 1998.
Know Your Rights and Be Protected
- As mandated by the laws of Texas, you have the right to have your car towed to the shop of your choosing and repaired at any body shop you select.
- Only one estimate is needed to determine the amount of damage.
- Always contact your insurance agent to determine if a rental vehicle is available under your policy, and never assume anything.
- Confirm that the insurance company pays for all covered repairs without exception.
- Select a repair shop carefully. The safety of your family depends on quality workmanship, so perform your due diligence and ask as many questions you can until you’re totally comfortable with the collision repairer.
Knowledge is Always Power
Please Note: Contact your insurance company and tell them where you want to have your vehicle repaired, and never be coerced by whatever the insurer tells you.
Some insurance companies will make you feel that they have your best interests in mind, but in many cases, they don’t. In reality, they’re just trying to control their bottom line and attempting to save money on your repair. Some insurers use carefully crafted scripts (also known as word tracks) that are completely illegal. It’s called “steering” and happens every day to consumers who don’t know their rights.
Here is a short list of common phrases that are used by some insurance companies when you decide to work with a collision center that isn’t on their preferred list. Here is a handful of the word tracks used to influence the customer into using a specific repair facility. Be very careful, because it’s your vehicle and your investment, and you have the right to make a choice on who repairs your vehicle.
- “The body shop you chose to work with is not a network shop and they are not on our list, so we can’t guarantee the repairs.”
- False: Every reputable collision repairer offers a Lifetime Warranty/Guarantee for as long as you own the vehicle.
- “If you use that body shop, we can’t get an adjuster out there for several days, but if you take it to our preferred collision center, we will have someone start on it right away.”
- False: This is just another trick to steer you to another collision facility. Insurance companies are required to send adjusters out within 1-2 days. In addition, if you’re the claimant or have car rental coverage on your policy, the insurer is required to pay for your rental expenses while your car is being repaired.
- “If you use that collision repairer, you will have to pay for your rental out-of-pocket.”
- False: Beware, because many insurers will try to force you into a rental reimbursement. This means that they will either attempt to get you to pay with a credit card and then reimburse you after the fact, or offer to send you a check for the number of rental days that are in question. Most insurance companies possess direct bill agreements with car rental companies, but they don’t always disclose all of that information. Always remember that as a claimant, you also have specific rights that a policyholder.
- “If the collision repairer you’ve chosen charges more than the prevailing rate, you will have to pay the difference in full.”
- False: All respected body shops are fully aware of prevailing rates and will rarely make it an issue.
- “Claims will take longer to settle if you decide to use the insurance company of your choice.”
- False: This is not always true. Some insurance companies take longer to respond and won’t pay as promptly as they do for their preferred providers.
10 Important Things to Know Before Your Vehicle is Repaired
- Your car is the second most major investment you’re likely to ever make. Preserve your vehicle’s value and stay safe by having your car fixed professionally.
- Never get in an auto that could be unsafe due to damages.
- Some insurers might ask you to visit their drive-in claims center before having your vehicle repaired, but be aware of the fact that you’re never required to do so.
- There aren’t any laws that mandate you to collect more than one single estimate or appraisal.
- You have the right to go to the collision center of your choice, and no insurance company can ever force you to go to a particular shop.
- Differences in repair estimates are very common, and a lower estimate may not include all necessary work.
- Select a shop that has uni-body repair equipment and certified technicians, by the manufacturer, and trained by I-CAR or ASE, for example.
- Ask if any collision repairer will be using genuine factory O.E. replacement parts.
- Insist that the shop offers a repair warranty.
- Let the shop of your choice directly negotiate your claim with the insurance company. Remember that it’s their job, not yours.