Who is responsible for the guarantee of workmanship and safety of my auto body repairs – the insurance company or the repair shop?
The repair shop, and, in limited circumstances, your insurance company. Your insurance company does not accept liability for the quality and safety of your vehicle’s repair. Therefore, you and you alone control the fate of your vehicle’s repair by choosing a proper facility – one that is adequately trained and equipped to restore your vehicle to its pre-accident condition. You have the legal right and authority to do so.
Can my insurance company authorize a repair shop to start repairs on my vehicle without my consent?
NO! Only the vehicle owner may authorize repairs. Before repairs are started, you must be presented with an estimate to know what is being repaired on your vehicle. New Mexico requires written estimates on repairs, and a signed authorization to start repairs.
My insurance company does not agree with my repair facility on how my vehicle should be repaired or what it should cost. What can I do?
Most insurance policy contracts contain an appraisal clause. When the insurance company and the customer fail to agree, either party may demand an appraisal within 60 days after the claim has been filed. Each party may then select a competent appraiser to represent them, and the two appraisers will select a competent and disinterested “umpire.” A decision by the umpire that agrees with either appraiser will determine the amount of loss.
Who is responsible for payment to the repair shop – the insurance company or me?
You are. Your insurance policy contract states that your insurance company will pay for the damages to your vehicle, less the deductible amount. You may instruct your insurance company to pay the repair shop of your choice directly. However, full payment must be arranged prior to your vehicle being picked up.
I am having a problem with my insurance company. Can the State Insurance Director’s office help me?
Yes, but the Director’s authority is limited. Keep in mind that the insurance director has no judicial authority to determine negligence or establish the value of a loss or injury.
Another driver damaged my car by his negligence. What differences are there between having my own insurance company pay for the repairs and having that driver (or his insurance company) pay for them?
There is a marked legal difference between an insured and a claimant when filing a claim with an insurance company. The difference is between “contract” or “policy” and “tort” theories of liability, and the benefits and drawbacks associated with each. An attorney can give you a full explanation of your rights and obligations before you decide how to pursue a particular claim. The main thing to remember is that you agreed to the provisions of your insurance contract. You did not agree to the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. You are limited by your contract, but the at-fault party cannot limit repairs.
Safety, Quality and Cost of Repairs
The standard measure of damages is the “reasonable” cost of necessary repairs. Therefore, select a repair facility that understands its obligations to you, its customer, and exercise caution when someone tells you that the repairs can be performed “cheaper” somewhere else. Keep in mind that, as the owner, you have the right to choose the repair methods best suited to restore your vehicle.