After an accident, we have all been trained (programmed?) to pull out our insurance card and dial the 800 number on the back to start the claims process. We probably believe (or want to believe) the advertising slogans that we have a “good neighbor”, or that we’re in “good hands”. But all too often, the exact opposite is true. The number one tactic employed by many insurance companies is: DENY DELAY and DEFEND.
Let’s break down this insurance strategy, and examine what happens at each step.
DENY (Delay and Defend)
The first step in the DENY DELAY and DEFEND process is to DENY full payment for proper repairs. The insurance adjuster writes a lowball estimate that employs the least expensive (often untested) aftermarket or used parts. The body shop (assuming you chose a shop that is not in a contractual relationship with the insurer) will then provide a supplement that should include all OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts – which is really the only way to restore your vehicle to it’s pre-loss condition. Payment for such parts is typically DENIED, and the insurer will suggest that the claimant should either go to one of their partner shops (who will repair the vehicle with the cheaper parts) or pay the difference out of pocket.
The game of back and forth described above can go on for days, weeks and even months. The second tactic insurers put into action is to delay the repair process as long as possible when claimants choose body shops that are independent of their partnership programs. Their thought behind this DELAY process is that eventually, they will wear the claimant down until they snap and decide to take their car to one of the insurer’s “preferred” shops.
If you are forced to pay out of pocket for a proper repair, your only real recourse is to take the insurer to court. They will force you to DEFEND your claim that you are owed more than they were willing to pay – and they know that process can be time consuming and expensive. Big insurance companies have teams of lawyers who are willing to roll the dice that you will either lose the will to risk your claim in court – or that they can outlast you financially throughout the process.
Insurance companies utilize the DENY DELAY and DEFEND tactic all the time – because it works for them. It saves them thousands of dollars per claim – across millions of claims per year. This translates to BILLIONS of dollars in profits for them.
What Should You Do?
The first, most important thing you should do is find out the truth about your car’s repair plan. Look at the estimates that are being argued over by the body shop and the insurer. Ask your body shop to explain things that you don’t understand. And be very, very aware of the fact that if there’s no argument over the parts, labor or pricing of your repair – you’re probably using a body shop that has a contract with the insurer to accept their lowball estimates without any pushback. This can only mean one thing: inferior, untested or used parts are probably being installed on your vehicle.
If you have any questions about the parts that we use, or the quality of any of our repairs, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us directly. We are transparent with our process here, and seek to educate you all along the way.