Local leaders fight to keep auto repair shop choice


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– The Department of Justice is rolling back a 56-year-old agreement between insurance companies and auto body shops that lets people pick where they get their cars fixed.

Lawmakers and industry leaders are vowing to fight the move saying it’s bad for consumers.

There were more than 100,000 crashes in Connecticut last year with thousands of cars ending up in places like Airport Road Auto Body shop in Hartford.

“When your car is damaged, you want to go to a licensed repair facility or your choice. Don’t let the insurance company tell you where to go,” said John Parese, General Counsel, Auto Body Association of Connecticut.

But your right to pick where you get your car fixed is due in part to a 1963 agreement or decree between the Department of Justice, insurers and auto body shops and Justice Department is in the process of rolling it back

“We’re going to fight to reverse this rollback,” said Parese.

Industry leaders were joined by Connecticut’s Senior Senator who only has a short 30 day window to weigh in on the move. With Congress on summer vacation, it’s unclear how effective he’ll be.

“Your car, your choice ought to be the rule of the road,” said Parese.

Connecticut law provides some protections for consumers but the auto body industry claims consumers will be persuaded by insurers to go to shops that agree to below-market rates.

“They get lower prices because they get lower quality with lesser parts and lower paid labor,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D) Connecticut.

Auto body associations across the country have joined together to fight the move. They say it’s an issue about consumer rights and safety.

“Insurance companies should not be in the business of fixing vehicles and when they get in that business all they’re looking to do is save money and they cut corners by using inferior or imitation parts,” said Parese.

News 8 reached out to the National Insurance Association for comment but haven’t yet heard back.

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