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Dec. 15, 2016—California’s insurance commissioner, Dave Jones, recently issued new anti-steering measures in auto body repair regulations, in an effort to prevent consumers from being misled or having claims delayed. Under regulations approved for 2017, insurers in that state are set to face stricter rules to discourage the “steering” of policyholders to less expensive shops through deceptive statements.

The office of Administrative Law approved the regulations on Monday; they become law on Jan. 1, 2017, but insurers have until March 12, 2017, to adhere.

Under the new regulations, it is illegal for insurers to require repairs at a certain shop, or to suggest a customer go elsewhere once they’ve chosen a shop, except under specific conditions, such as if a referral is expressly requested by the claimant. An insurer may provide the claimant with specific non-deceptive information regarding the services and benefits available to the claimant, such as information about the repair warranties offered.

“Consumers who suffer from collision damage should not be misled by insurance companies or forced to wait weeks for an inspection in order to steer them away from their chosen shop and into insurer-contracted repair shops,” Jones said in a statement, “just so the insurance company can save money at the expense of proper and safe repairs.”

In California it becomes illegal for an insurer to communicate false or deceptive information to the claimant including: advising the claimant that an inspection of the vehicle will occur at a date that is later than required; making a statement to the claimant that a chosen shop has a record of poor service; advising the claimant that their chosen shop has a record of poor repair quality based solely on a labor rate survey.

The law also gives first- and third-party insurers a six-day limit for inspections, and the insurers can’t force a claimant to travel more than 15 miles in areas with populations of 100,000 or more. An insurer who seeks photos for a supplement must request them within three days.

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