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Q&A: Texas Watch on its Call for Investigation into Insurer's Repair Practices

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Aug. 11, 2017—Texas Watch requested Thursday that the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) investigate the insurance industry’s corner cutting automobile repairs.

In its release, Texas Watch references a federal lawsuit that is accusing State Farm of forcing John Eagle Collision Center in Dallas to cut costs by using a dangerous, untested adhesive to replace a hail damaged steel roof. The complaint blames the defective car repair for crushing and burning the owners of a used 2010 Honda Fit when their car was struck in an accident.

Deputy director Tori Sommerman spoke with FenderBender to lay out why Texas Watch called for the investigation and the organization's track record with insurance-related cases.

 

Can you tell us a bit about Texas Watch?

We’re a nonprofit that focuses on issues of accountability of safety and justice, primarily work in insurance realm.

Texas Watch has a long history of working on home and auto insurance issues and routinely engages the Texas Department of Insurance on issues of rate filingspolicy formsarbitration, and policyholder protections to name a few.   

We’ve worked a lot with TDI in the past. We’ve done many record requests, investigation requests in the insurance realm, and they've always complied.

Did the State Farm lawsuit attract your attention to this issue?

Yes. There has been this impetus because of that reporting. But this is a much larger issues to us as well. We believe consumers should have the right to choose their own body shops for repairs, free from pressure from insurance. And that we believe insurance companies should not be able to pressure those body shops into making shoddy repairs.

Is this an issue you’ve tackled before? In relation to collision repair shops?

We haven’t really delved into it that much before. We would like TDI to look into it. We noted it’s an issue when insurance companies pressure policyholders to use a particular body shop. It’s something TDI noted in a 2011 report.

Have you considered the fact that body shop is just as much at fault as State Farm?

Absolutely. Body shops should do right procedures. We believe body shops should be making safe repairs. We also believe, then, insurance companies should prioritize policyholder’s safety.

How quickly do you think an investigation would happen?

The investigation is up to TDI. We hope they have quick response and make meaningful action.

 

 

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