Montana News

Jun 6, 2010 3:03 PM by Marnee Banks

MT auto body shops worried about insurance cos.

HELENA - Some Montana auto body repair shops are claiming that insurance companies are breaking the law.

Back in 2007, the Montana Legislature overwhelmingly passed an "anti-steering law," which prohibits insurance companies from "steering" people to specific auto-repair facilities, and now one Helena auto shop wants some enforcement.

"Because I think the consumer should have a choice. You have a choice where you shop, you have a choice where you go," said Bruce Halcro, the owner of Capital Collision in Helena.

The law does allow an insurance company to provide the consumer with a list of shops they work with, but steering the consumer to one specific shop is breaking the law.

"I've had specific shops tell me that that's the way do business. They read the law different than the insurance commissioners office and the Legislature did,"
Halcro remarked. "So, we are hoping we now have their attention and we can put this to a halt."

The insurance commissioner's office is charged with enforcing the anti-steering law but as of now they have their hands tied.

Jesse Laslovich, the chief legal counsel for the MT State Auditor's Office, said, "At least up until this point we haven't gotten a complaint from a consumer, so instead the repair facility will try to contact us and we can't take a complaint from a repair facility."

So the commissioners' office is informally investigating the complaints from the repair shops.

If consumers feel like they have been illegally "steered," they can file a complaint online at the insurance commissioners website.

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