N.C. Shop Accuses Insurer of Steering, Awarded Four Figures
April 30, 2019—Pack Brothers Collision Center in Belmont, N.C. recently filed a complaint that accused Travelers Insurance Company of steering. In the wake of that complaint, Travelers and the North Carolina Department of Insurance recently entered into a voluntary settlement agreement.
Larry Pack, who has co-owned the non-DRP shop with his brother, Ronnie, since 1971, told FenderBender that the shop made the complaint largely out of principle.
"It wasn't a large amount of money, but it's something that needed to be addressed," Larry Pack said in a phone interview. "We didn't get to defend ourselves to the customer" involved.
North Carolina statutes require that insurers allow a claimant to select the repair of damage to a vehicle, and prohibits insurers from recommending the use of a particular repairer without clearly informing the claimant that they aren't under obligation to use a recommended repairer. In that spirit, the owners of Pack Brothers argued that a Travelers representative steered a claimant from their shop.
That eventually resulted in the shop losing $1,566.38 in business, it was determined.
The potential customer in this case preferred to have Pack Brothers perform the repair, but the insurer advised them that, while the claimant was allowed to use Pack Brothers for repair work, they were likely to be saddled with out-of-pocket costs if that shop was utilized. That exchange was noted in an email sent from a Travelers representative to the claimant that is now part of public record. The claimant was left confused by the email, and eventually showed it to the staff at Pack Brothers.
While Larry Pack said he hears about steering complaints somewhat frequently throughout the industry, "it's hard to nail someone down with it without the proper information. And we had good information; it was typed up and emailed to the [customer]. She showed us a copy of that, we made a copy of it, and that's how everything originated.
"I was surprised that someone would put that in writing and give it to a customer."
The DOI eventually decided that such action by the insurer resulted in a loss of revenue for Pack Brothers. Without admitting guilt, Travelers, as part of the voluntary settlement agreement, reimbursed Pack Brothers for the total amount of the estimate. The business received a check for $1,566.38 late last week from the insurance company.
"When you see that type of stuff," Pack said of the insurer-claimant email exchange, "you wonder how much of that goes on that you don't know about."