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Farmers won't pay full cost of repair

Posted by PWS50 
Farmers won't pay full cost of repair
January 21, 2014 08:30PM
In December 2013, I was involved in an automobile accident in NC. The accident was deemed to be my fault, but no citation was issued. I have NEVER had an accident that was my fault, NOR have I ever been issued a traffic citation in my 47 year driving career.
The insured automobile is a 2013 Buick Enclave, which was purchased new.
I contacted my Farmer’s Insurance agent, on that same day. I subsequently received the police report and sent same to said agent. A claim was made by the other driver for approximately $650, which was paid by Farmer’s.
I was told that a claims adjuster would be in touch with instructions on how to proceed with the claim for damage to my vehicle. After several missed calls and no return calls from persons I was told to contact, a change was made in the adjuster contact name and number.
Subsequently, I was put in touch with the claims adjuster. I was informed that I could use the Farmer’s “preferred” body shop, OR that I could use a body shop of my choosing. Upon questioning the agent about their “preferred” shop I was told that there was only ONE in this area. They had another “preferred” shop in a different city an hour from my home and in the neighboring state about 45 minutes from my home; however, I told the adjuster that it would be inconvenient for me to use the out of town shops because of logistical issues with drop off and pick up. She assured me that if I used a shop other than their “preferred” shop, the shop could send in pictures and documentation of damage and that Farmer’s would pay the claim. NEVER was I told that there was a “cap” on per hour labor costs or parts during this initial conversation. I was left with the impression that ANY shop could be used; the only caveat being that submission of photos and an estimate would be necessary. I have checked the copy of my auto policy, and NO WHERE does it give parameters of labor costs or billing practices, either specific or implied, or make mention of ANY requirements for repair of an insured vehicle other than the usual fact that the insurance must be current, etc.
I contacted a friends and colleagues recommended shop for an estimate of repair for my vehicle. NO ONE would recommend the “preferred” shop. The estimate of repair and photos were sent to Farmers.
Subsequently, I received a cell phone call from the claims adjuster. The adjuster wanted to know if I had decided where to take my automobile for repair. She informed me that after looking at the estimate, the cost of repair was too high, and that they would initially only approve $904.51 for the repair. The estimate was $1,609.01. In addition, I had a $500 deductible; thus, the amount “short” was $204.50.
I was told that my body shop does not charge a “set” per hour labor cost, but instead uses a set fee per job (i.e. a set labor charge for changing a bumper, etc.). Adjuster said this practice was not acceptable to Farmers. I was again NEVER told that I should choose a shop that adhered to their labor cost practices, NOR was I ever told that I could not choose a shop that needed to meet certain criteria of Farmers. I asked the adjuster that if I took her check for $904.51 and added my $500 deductible, would I be able to go to ANY OTHER shop in the area, and that it would pay for my repair (additional unseen damage not included). Her emphatic answer was “YES”.
Her answer was NOT TRUE. After that particular conversation, I took my vehicle to two other body shops (both recommended by the Buick dealership). Upon inspection, one estimate was $1,580.94, and the other was $1,577.12. The biggest difference was only $31.89 between all three estimates. Therefore, the check for $904.51 STILL would NOT COVER even the initial estimate costs of repair. These estimates were then sent to Farmers for review.
I received a call from adjuster to inform me that the other two estimates were not accurate either, inasmuch as they actually charged MORE for the bumper part than did my shop, but that their labor costs were in line with what they would pay. She implied that if I took the vehicle to the “preferred” shop that the costs would be covered. I then decided that it would be necessary to deal directly with her supervisor. After contact with the supervisor via email, she informed me that they cannot pay the rate difference my shop is charging. The highest they are able to pay is $45 per hour for paint and body labor and $30 for the paint materials rate.
I elected to use my choice shop for repair to my vehicle. After taking the vehicle apart for repair, additional damage was seen. This was expected, as I was told by BOTH body shops giving the other two estimates that there was probably additional damage unable to be seen upon initial inspection as well. My shop has supplied Farmers with documentation and photos of the additional damage, as well as the cost of repair.
The final cost of repair was $3,501.58, less my $500 deductible, less the $904.51 initially sent by Farmers, less $1,725.34 paid directly to the auto shop by Farmers, thus leaving a balance due me from Farmers of $371.73.
As a footnote to the above, the only way to send an email to the claims adjuster at Farmers is through a “link” on their website. Unfortunately, when sent in this manner, there is no way for me to have a “copy” of the email that I sent, other than to take a “screen shot” with my camera (which I did so that I would have a record of the email). Therefore, it seems that Farmers does not want a “hard copy” of any correspondence with their office. I was given an email address from the body shop for the adjuster calling their office for explanation of charges.
Upon sending an email to this individual, I was again contacted via email (as a reply from my email) from the original supervisor, who again refused the shortfall payment, citing per hour labor costs and paint costs.
I picked up my car and paid the balance not covered by the insurance company. I have requested restitution from Farmers for the shortfall amount of $371.73, to no avail. I have, therefore, resorted to asking for restitution in small claims court. In addition, I have filed a complaint with the Attorney General for this state (AL), as well as filed a complaint with the Insurance Commission for this state.

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Seven years later and Farmers is trying to pay our body shop merely $42 for body and paint labor and a messily $28/hr for paint supplies. Currently even our DRP's are paying $46 and $34/hr for paint supplies. This is the lowest rates I have EVER seen on an estimate. I have tried contacting the company for a fair labor rate and so far they will not return my calls or emails whatsoever! I guess until they are fair we will have to hold the mutual customers vehicle until they are.

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Re: Farmers won't pay full cost of repair
March 09, 2021 11:52PM
Ok. Set fee or rolling fee is stupid. No one of any reputable ethic does that

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