California Auto Body Repair Consumer Bill of Rights
One of the most often asked questions we hear each week is
“What’s the best way to get my car repaired?”
The following information answers this question and most related questions. We’ve also included phone numbers and website links. Always feel free to call if you have any additional questions or concerns.
In California, a consumer is allowed to:
1. Select the auto body repair shop you want to repair your vehicle. An insurance company may not require you to have the repairs done at a specific auto body shop.
2. An itemized written estimate for auto body repairs and upon completion of repairs, a detailed invoice. The estimate and the invoice must include an itemized list of parts and labor along with the total price for the work performed. The estimate and invoice must also identify all parts as new, used, aftermarket, reconditioned or rebuilt.
3. Be advised about coverage for towing and storage services (hint- ask your insurance agent or claims adjuster).
4. Be advised about the extent of coverage if any, for a replacement rental vehicle while a damaged vehicle is being repaired (ask agent/adjuster).
5. Be advised of where to report suspected fraud or other complaints and concerns about auto body repairs (ask agent/adjuster).
6. Seek and obtain an independent repair estimate directly from a registered auto body repair shop for repair of a damaged vehicle, even when pursuing an insurance claim for repairing the vehicle.
Insider Tips: We almost always encourage our clients to get their car repaired through their own insurance company. Even if the accident was not their fault. The reason we make this recommendation is that your own insurance company has a fiduciary duty to handle your claim in good faith and to place your interest before its own. The other party’s insurance company does not owe you that same duty. Even though you may be initially out of pocket on the deductible, your insurance company will get your reimbursed from the responsible driver’s insurance company.
Some clients think that if they use their own insurance company to get their car repaired, their rates will go up, even if they were not the at fault driver. This is not the case. In California your insurance carrier is not allowed to raise your rates just because your processed a property damage claim in an accident that wasn’t your fault. After all, that’s the reason you’ve been paying premiums all these years. To get help when you need it.
Complaints within the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Automotive Repair
Complaints concerning the repair of a vehicle by an auto body repair shop should be directed to:
Toll Free (866) 799-3811
California Department of Consumer Affairs/Bureau of Automotive Repair
10240 Systems Parkway
Sacramento, CA 95827
Complaints are also accepted at the Bureau of Automotive Repair web site.
Complaints within the jurisdiction of the California Insurance Commissioner (Bad Faith and Fraud Concerns)
Any concerns regarding how an auto insurance claim is being handled should be submitted to the California Department of Insurance at:
(800) 927-HELP or (213) 897-8921
California Department of Insurance
Consumer Services Division
300 S. Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Complaints are also accepted at the California Department of Insurance web site.