August 15, 2017 by Katherine Coig
Texas Watch, a non-partisan citizen advocacy organization, has asked the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) to investigate the insurance industry’s “corner cutting automobile repairs.” This is in light of State Farm’s alleged role in influencing an auto repair that wasn’t performed to the OEM’s specifications. The repair in question resulted in a $1 million lawsuit against a Texas collision repair center, as well as a separate lawsuit against State Farm, following an accident that left a couple severely injured.
The organization wants TDI to take “enforceable action” and discourage insurers from steering its consumers into using its preferred auto collision center. Texas Watch believes this will prevent insurance providers from pushing auto repair shops into performing cheaper repairs.
“When insurers prioritize the bottom line, and pressure body shops into unsafe, shoddy repairs, Texans’ lives are put at risk,” Tori Sommerman, deputy director of Texas Watch, said in a statement. “Recent reporting demonstrates the tragic consequences of insurance companies pressuring drivers into using industry-preferred body shops where insurers can push for cheap, substandard repairs.”
In a letter to TDI deputy commissioner Mark Einfalt, Ware Wendell, executive director of Texas Watch, urged the department to “hold industry wrongdoers accountable through all available means and without delay given the many lives at stake.” He added that laws are only “ink on paper” until courts and agencies enforce them.
Matthew and Marcia Seebachan have filed separate lawsuits against State Farm for negligence and breach of warranty, following statements that Boyce Willis, director at John Eagle Collision, gave in his deposition. According to Willis, insurers can trump OEM specifications by not paying the bill if the repair isn’t performed how the insurer dictated it.
The lawsuits are ongoing.