Following a phone conversation about these matters, NYSACTA Executive Director Ed Kizenberger wrote, “NYSACTA is very alarmed at what can only be described as a flagrant disregard of regulations by certain insurers around field inspections. We have received many complaints from repair shops that certain insurers are refusing to conduct personal inspections of vehicles when requested by either the insured or the repair shop holding the vehicle, as required by Regulation 64 (Insurance Law 216.7(b)(3)).
Kizenberger went on to explain, “Compounding that violation, these same insurers are sending ‘photographers’ to pictorially assess the damage to the vehicle. While we appreciate that insurance company ‘apps’ may play a role in expediting the inspection/estimate/repair process, we have grave concerns about ‘photo’ inspections in general, and believe engaging an insurer photographer clearly violates the regulations which request the ‘person inspecting the damaged vehicle… be licensed…’ In many cases, ‘first call’ center personnel who may not be familiar with New York regulations are telling consumers that if the car is drivable (a risky assumption at best by a consumer who most likely has no experience evaluating collision damage), they refuse to send out an adjuster and require the consumer to take a photo and send it in for an estimate to be prepared.
“Either no inspection is being conducted – in violation of the regulation; or the inspection is being conducted by an unauthorized individual – another violation of the regulation. These false and misleading inspections are generating false and misleading estimates, which require re-inspections/re-estimates and unnecessarily delay the repair of the vehicle. These unwarranted delays do a grave disservice to the consumer, and threaten violation of those sections of Regulation 64 which set out specific time periods within which the insurers must act to assure prompt, fair and equitable settlement of a damage claim. Simply stated, we are concerned that certain insurers are in wholesale violation of the provisions of Regulation 64, and we have compiled countless complaints which we would be happy to share with you," the letter continued.
Kizenberger concluded, “Clearly, the Department’s involvement in this matter is urgent and a full inspection into these charges is undoubtedly warranted… The flagrant disregard for consumer protections cannot be allowed to continue.”
The Department of Financial Services is requiring documentation to substantiate NYSACTA's concerns, so the association has encouraged its members and other collision repair industry professionals in NY to pay attention to examples of poor claims handling, false and misleading initial estimates resulting in much larger supplements due to the photo estimate, or an outright refusal to perform a proper initial inspection. Specific complaints should be filed directly with the Consumer Assistance Unit, and instructions for filing complaints can be found at dfs.ny.gov/consumer/fileacomplaint.htm.
After filing a complaint, NYSACTA encourages collision repair professionals to send all pertinent details of the complaint, including the DFS claim number, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kizenberger noted, "We encourage all our members to file complaints, when necessary, with the DFS. Also, you can help your customers file a complaint with the DFS as consumer complaints are very helpful. As an industry, we must present these complaints if we are to have any chance of resolving our problems.”