Last Updated on September 14, 2020
A policyholder reports a claim to his auto insurance company and receives a return call the following day from his assigned claims representative. The rep asks to record the conversation in order to capture all the pertinent details.
The rep tells the customer he can choose whichever body shop he would like. He also offers the company’s direct repair program. Choose from the insurance company’s list of preferred shops and receive a nationwide lifetime warranty on all repairs. The policyholder likes the idea of having a lifetime warranty on the repairs, especially since he usually moves for work every 2-3 years. He agrees to use one of the preferred body shops. Since the damaged automobile was towed from the scene to a nearby body shop which is not part of the company’s preferred program, the policyholder needs to tell the body shop it’s ok to allow the car to be towed away.
His call to the body shop isn’t a pleasant one. The owner answers the phone, listens to the policyholder’s request and is instantly upset. He attempts to persuade the customer to leave the vehicle with him for repairs. He tells the policyholder he doesn’t have to use one of the insurance company’s body shops. The policyholder acknowledges him but wants to proceed and gives permission for the vehicle to be towed.
The body shop owner’s next call is to the insurance company’s claims manager to complain about “his” customer being steered away. He threatens to file a complaint with the state insurance commission and the Better Business Bureau. He even threatens to file a lawsuit for the lost business. He’s tired of dealing with this over and over again.
The Facts About Steering
In most states, the consumer has a right to choose the collision repair facility that will fix their damaged automobile. If the insurance company restricts coverage based on the consumer’s choice of repairer or offers enticements for an insured or claimant to use a particular body shop, they may be in violation of the law. Some body shops aggressively look for opportunities to make complaints to state insurance departments against insurers they believe are steering customers to preferred repair facilities.
Insurers must take steps to prove they are respecting the consumer’s right to choose or risk significant regulatory and/or legal action. By far the most effective way for auto insurers to protect themselves from steering accusations is to record all calls where claims professionals discuss repair shop choice with consumers. In the earlier scenario, a call recording system that automatically records calls from beginning to end would have provided the necessary protection to refute a body shop’s claims of steering.
Not only does call recording protect insurance companies from unwarranted steering accusations but it also helps manage the performance of claims representatives who discuss repair choice with policyholders and claimants each day. Supervisors can randomly monitor or review recorded calls to make certain a customer’s right to choose was preserved. In instances when claims representatives failed to inform customers properly, additional training can be provided or disciplinary action initiated. This sends the important message that preserving the customer’s right to choose is serious business and has an unmistakable impact on the company’s bottom line.
Last Updated on September 14, 2020