By Amy Davis – Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON – If you get in a car accident, you expect your car insurance company or the other drivers’ company to cover the cost of the repairs. But some repair shops say most drivers don’t know that many insurance companies won’t pay for the repairs needed to get your car safely back on the road.

“So this person is driving around in this car with bent frame rails, salvage rear floor, and they had no idea,” explained Greg Luther, the chairman of the Houston Auto Body Association.”This is the kind of stuff that we’re trying to stop.”

Luther is also the director of operations at Helfman Collision Center, where he says he’s seen plenty of insurance companies refuse to pay for proper repairs that are recommended by the car manufacturers.

“It’s very common for the insurance company to dictate the use of non-OEM parts, parts that are designed to save money,” said Luther.

Luther supports a bill Texas lawmakers are considering now that would require insurance companies to follow the original equipment manufacturer guidelines and parts. It is already against the law for your insurance company to steer you away from a repair shop you choose to one it prefers, but Luther says some insurers use a variety of tactics to do it anyway.

“‘If you choose your shop, they’re not on our list, it’s gonna take us 5 to 10 days to get out there,'” Luther said, revealing one thing your insurer might say to get you to use one of its partner shops.
“They have these nice, long scripts that they use to get people to go to the shops they want them to go to.”

House Bill 1348 would prevent those steering practices. Even if you don’t get in an accident, Luther said, ensuring that all wrecked vehicles are repaired properly keeps everyone on the roads safe. And it could stop you from buying a car that may look nice, but is actually unsafe under that new coat of paint.  HB 1348 will first go before the House. You can imagine that the insurance lobby will push back against it. We will follow the progress and let you know if it passes.