Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

A consumer wrote, “I recently visited a Seattle auto body shop for a repair estimate. They told me they only work with specific insurance companies, and that (consumer’s insurance provider) was not one of them. They claimed they were too busy to work with me if I chose to not use the insurance company. I was surprised to be dismissed by a for-profit business, especially since I've used them in years past.  … Is it legal for them to turn me away because the insurance company does not meet their criteria?”
 
We checked with the Office of the Insurance Commissioner and were told that there doesn't appear to be anything in the auto insurance code that requires auto body repair shops to accept business from all carriers. So if your mechanic won't accept payment from your provider, you may need to pay out of pocket or take your car elsewhere.

Your insurance provider, however, does have to follow certain rules. WAC 284-30-3902 requires your insurance company provide you with a copy of the estimate it uses as the basis for payment and, upon your request, provide names of repair shops in your area that will complete the repairs for the estimated cost. 

WAC 284-30-3903 says that if you want to take your vehicle to a specific repair shop, your insurance company must make a good faith effort to honor your request. But if you choose to take your vehicle to a shop that charges more than your insurer's estimate, you'll probably have to pick up the extra cost.

Check your policy, too. The law says your insurance company can designate a specific repair shop as part of your contract. But at present, the Insurance Commissioner's Office isn't aware of any major auto insurance companies that include such a provision in their policy forms.

Disclaimer: This information is not a substitute for legal advice to ensure full compliance with laws regulating insurance providers or auto repair shops.

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