The Massachusetts Division of Standards has announced guidance for glass repair shops regarding communications with customers and compensation claimants may expect to receive from insurers. The announcement comes as the Division says it is aware that some shops may suggest to customers that insurers will pay or reimburse the insured for the full cost of glass repair work.
Furthermore, the Division says some shops suggest to customers that if they pay the repair shop the difference between its charges and the amount the insurer pays for repair work, including glass services then the claimant is entitled to compensation from the insurer.
“…Shops should be aware that such a suggestion might be false and might subject the repair shop to penalties. The Division reminds repair shops that [it] may suspend or revoke a repair shop’s registration if the Division finds that a repair shop ‘has followed a continuous and flagrant course of misrepresentations or the making of false promises, through advertising or otherwise, in the conduct of motor vehicle repair or motor vehicle glass repair or otherwise…,’” the agency wrote citing Massachusetts statutes.
Massachusetts law also prohibits shops from making false or fraudulent statements with respect to repairs. Associated violations may result in registration suspensions, revocations and even fines totaling as much as $1,000.
“There is no statutory obligation for insurers to pay a specified amount charged by a repair shop for repair work,” the Division writes. “An insurer’s obligation to pay for damage to a motor vehicle caused by an accident is governed by the terms of the applicable policy and/or by relevant provisions of Massachusetts law. The amount insurers are required to pay for motor vehicle damage repairs varies depending on the circumstances and on the terms of the specific policy pursuant to which a claim is made.”
Insurers’ obligations for claims made on private passenger vehicle insurance plans containing a “Participating Repair Shop Endorsement” are dependent on the specific policy’s terms. Insurers’ obligations where repairs are made to a vehicle deemed a total loss by a licensed appraiser are limited by Massachusetts regulations.
According to the Division, claimants may dispute the amount of insurers’ payments for repair work in cases where insurers have adopted direct payment plans. Doing so could lead to litigation or arbitration, and depending on the outcome, may not obligate the insurer to pay the amount demanded by the claimant or shop.
“Therefore, any suggestion to a repair shop’s customer or potential customer that an insurer has a legal obligation to pay for repair work at whatever rate charged for such repair work by the repair shop may constitute a false or fraudulent statement,” the Division writes. “Similarly, any suggestion by a repair shop to a customer or potential customer that an insurer will or must reimburse the customer for all or a part of the customer’s payment to the repair shop is not supported by Massachusetts law and may be a false or fraudulent statement.”