New Jersey rules pertaining to a consumer's right to have their vehicle repaired at the shop of his or her own choice.
These rules are part of the New Jersey Unfair Claim Settlement Practice Act:
(e) Subject to the requirements of (d) above, the insured may use any repair facility of his or her own choice. With respect to automobile damage claims, the insurer shall notify in writing any insured who elects to use his or her own repair facility that, pursuant to law, any entity engaged in the business of auto body repairs must be duly licensed. The notice shall further advise the insured that the insurer is prohibited by law from negotiating, adjusting, or settling an automobile damage claim with an unlicensed facility. The written notice shall be furnished at the time of acknowledgment of the claim as provided at N.J.A.C. 11:217.6 or upon the furnishing of its written estimate, as speciified at (c) above, whichever is sooner. The insurer must take all reasonable efforts to obtain an agreed price with the facility selected by the insured.
The insurer may recommend, and if the insured requests, must recommend a qualified repair facility at a location reasonably convenient to the insured motor vehicle who will repair the damaged motor vehicle at the insurer's estimated cost of repairs.
The Business of "Steering"
Insurance companies work hand-in-hand with auto body shops that they are used to. It makes financial sense for both the insurer and the shop; however, it does not always mean the body shop will do the best possible job for the consumer. Often times customers have been unhappy with previous claims, yet the insurer insists they must return to the same body shop. THAT'S ILLEGAL! You, the insured, have the right to use the body shop OF YOUR CHOICE without question. You pay car insurance to protect yourself and your vehicle, insurance is to insure if you get into an accident that your car will be restored back to the same condition it was in before the accident, not close to the same. It's YOUR CAR, YOUR MONEY, YOUR CHOICE! Therefore, the insurer cannot deny you the right to pick a body shop YOU feel comfortable with.
** Insurance adjusters must come out to review your vehicle within a reasonable timeframe. **
** There is NO law requiring you to obtain more than one estimate or appraisal. **