Five million car accidents occur on American roads each year. If you are one of those people who experienced a car accident, you may have called your insurance company to report it and they may have suggested that you take your car to one of the shops enrolled in their Direct Repair Program. If you agreed to use a DRP, it’s important that you read this blog. If you haven’t had a car accident but drive a car – it’s important that you read this blog.

In short, a Direct Repair Program (DRP) is an agreement an insurance company makes with a preferred auto body shop to reduce the cost of repair in exchange for customers being steered their way. While reducing repair costs might sound good, only the insurance company profits from the agreement. Cost savings are not passed on to the insured – the insurance companies keep it to enrich their bottom line.

How it works:

The insurance company provides the auto body shop with the price they are willing to pay for different types of repair work and the time in which they want the repair work done. If anything out of the ordinary occurs during the repair job, the auto body shop has to figure out how to pay for it. Often times the auto body shop will use counterfeit or “uncertified used parts” for the repair which is acceptable to the insurance companies but not to the car manufacturer who will void the customer’s warranty when counterfeit parts are installed in the vehicle.

Using counterfeit parts in a car can have greater consequences than a voided warranty – it can actually compromise vehicle performance and driver safety, as reported in this Channel 4 News story, “Body shops say insurance companies force them to use recycled parts”.

Know your rights

Insured’s have the right to have their automobile repaired in the shop of their choice. Unfortunately, many insurance companies will press the insured to use one of their DRP shops. They will tell the insured that they can only guarantee that the repair will be done in a timely manner and the total cost covered if they use a DRP shop. If the insured refuses to move the vehicle to a DRP shop, the insurance company may press harder as reported in this Long Island Press story, “Steering You Wrong”.

State Laws Protect Insured

Insurance companies pressuring insureds to use DRP’s has become such a common practice that New York State adopted a law to make it illegal. Below is an excerpt of the law:

Section 2610 of the Insurance law provides as follows: (a) Whenever a motor vehicle collision or comprehensive loss shall have been suffered by an insured, no insurer providing collision or comprehensive coverage therefore shall require that repairs be made to such vehicle in a particular place or shop or by a particular concern. 1 (b) In processing any such claim (other than a claim solely involving window glass), the insurer shall not, unless expressly requested by the insured, recommend or suggest repairs be made to such vehicle in a particular place or shop or by a particular concern.

Auto body shops do not like having to work with a DRP because using counterfeit parts and rushing the repair makes it difficult to warranty the work. If the customer is unhappy it’s the auto body shop that is left to deal with the complaint, not the insurance company.

Car accidents leave drivers and passengers shaken up and sometimes gravely injured. It is not uncommon for the insured to call their insurance company to get guidance. It’s outrageous that insurance companies take advantage of their clients’ vulnerability by pressing them to use auto body shops that rush the job and install counterfeit parts that both void their warranty and can jeopardize vehicle performance which could impact driver safety.

Be aware and take your vehicle to the auto body shop of your choosing.