(This information in not intended to be used as legal
advice. For legal advice, ALWAYS consult with an attorney.)
You, the vehicle owner, have the right to choose where
your vehicle is repaired, not the Insurance Company. WAC 284.30.390 says the
insurer must make a good faith effort to honor your chosen repair shop and
cannot deny your choice. No insurance company can interfere with that right.
You DO NOT have to
go to the insurance company's shop or claims center for an estimate or repairs.
Come to us for repairs and we'll help you take care of it.
You do not have to accept the insurance company
“estimate” of damages as final payment. If you disagree with your insurance
company, you may dispute the claim. 99.9 % of insurance initial “estimates” do
not cover the cost to properly repair your vehicle.
Conduct all communication with the insurance company IN
WRITING ONLY, and insist that they do the same. This eliminates the “I thought
they said…” syndrome and gives you documentation of all statements and claims
made by the insurer. Insurers can make misleading (or in some cases blatantly
false) statements in person or over the telephone; however, they will not put
these in writing. I cannot stress enough how important this is. Email is a
great way to handle this. Let the insurer know that you are unable to receive
phone calls during work hours and insist that they send you an email/fax
Do not take financial advice from any party that has an
interest in how much money you receive.
Insurance companies are for-profit businesses, and nobody
would object to any business earning a legitimate profit; however, these
profits should not be borne on the backs of consumers through underpayment of
claims. DO NOT rely on the insurance company for sound advice, as their
objective is to minimize their losses.
If your Insurance Company refuses to pay for the actual
cost of proper repairs or attempts to “lowball” your claim, consider using “The
Insurance Fair Conduct Act.” From RCW 48.30.015 Unreasonable denial of a claim
for coverage or payment of benefits: “Any first party claimant to a policy of
insurance who is unreasonably denied a claim for coverage or payment of
benefits by an insurer may bring an action in the superior court of this state
to recover the actual damages sustained, together with the costs of the action,
including reasonable attorneys' fees and litigation costs, as set forth in
subsection (3) of this section.”
for Accurate Auto Body Inc.
Below is a sampling of important regulations in
Washington State law relating to dealings between you and your insurance
company. For more information on Washington state policy on these matters,
visit the Office of the Insurance Commissioner's website at http://insurance.wa.gov
WAC 284.30.330 – Specific unfair claims settlement
The following are hereby defined as unfair methods of
competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the business of
insurance, specifically applicable to the settlement of claims:
Misrepresenting pertinent facts or insurance policy provisions.
(2) Failing to
acknowledge and act reasonably promptly upon communications with respect to
claims arising under insurance policies.
(3) Failing to
adopt and implement reasonable standards for the prompt investigation of claims
arising under insurance policies.
(4) Refusing to
pay claims without conducting a reasonable investigation.
(5) Failing to
affirm or deny coverage of claims within a reasonable time after proof of loss
statements have been completed.
(6) Not attempting
in good faith to effectuate prompt, fair and equitable settlements of claims in
which liability has become reasonably clear. In particular, this includes an
obligation to effectuate prompt payment of property damage claims to innocent
third parties in clear liability situations. If two or more insurers are
involved, they should arrange to make such payment, leaving to themselves the
burden of apportioning it.
insureds to institute or submit to litigation, arbitration, or appraisal to
recover amounts due under an insurance policy by offering substantially less
than the amounts ultimately recovered in such actions or proceedings.
(8) Attempting to
settle a claim for less than the amount to which a reasonable man would have
believed he was entitled by reference to written or printed advertising
material accompanying or made part of an application.
(9) Making claims
payments to insureds or beneficiaries not accompanied by a statement setting
forth the coverage under which the payments are being made.
(10) Asserting to
insureds or claimants a policy of appealing from arbitration awards in favor of
insureds or claimants for the purpose of compelling them to accept settlements
or compromises less than the amount awarded in arbitration.
(11) Delaying the
investigation or payment of claims by requiring an insured, claimant, or the
physician of either to submit a preliminary claim report and then requiring
subsequent submissions which contain substantially the same information.
(12) Failing to
promptly settle claims, where liability has become reasonably clear, under one
portion of the insurance policy coverage in order to influence settlements
under other portions of the insurance policy coverage.
(13) Failing to
promptly provide a reasonable explanation of the basis in the insurance policy
in relation to the facts or applicable law for denial of a claim or for the
offer of a compromise settlement.
discriminating against claimants because they are represented by a public
(15) Failure to
expeditiously honor drafts given in settlement of claims. A failure to honor a
draft within three working days of notice of receipt by the payor bank will
constitute a violation of this provision. Dishonor of any such draft for valid
reasons related to the settlement of the claim will not constitute a violation
of this provision.
(16) Failure to
adopt and implement reasonable standards for the processing and payment of
claims once the obligation to pay has been established. Except as to those
instances where the time for payment is governed by statute or rule or is set
forth in an applicable contract, procedures which are not designed to deliver a
check or draft to the payee in payment of a settled claim within fifteen
business days after receipt by the insurer or its attorney of properly executed
releases or other settlement documents are not acceptable. Where the insurer is
obligated to furnish an appropriate release or settlement document to an
insured or claimant, it shall do so within twenty working days after a
settlement has been reached.
appraisals or adding to their cost under insurance policy appraisal provisions
through the use of appraisers from outside of the loss area. The use of
appraisers from outside the loss area is appropriate only where the unique
nature of the loss or a lack of competent local appraisers make the use of
out-of-area appraisers necessary.
(18) Failing to
make a good faith effort to settle a claim before exercising a contract right
to an appraisal.
or settling a claim directly with any claimant known to be represented by an
attorney without the attorney's knowledge and consent. This does not prohibit
routine inquiries to an insured claimant to identify the claimant or to obtain
details concerning the claim.