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CA Department of Insurance

Auto Body Repairs and Replacement Parts

Consumer Alert - Information on Automobile Repairs and After-Market Replacement Parts

FACT SHEET

Auto Body Repair Shops

Under the California Insurance Code, a consumer is not required to have repairs done at any insurance company recommended automobile repair shop.  However, if a consumer does use an insurance company recommended repair shop, the insurance company must stand behind the repairs if your vehicle is not repaired properly.

(1)  You have the right to choose where you take your car for automobile repairs.
(2)  If an insurance company recommends a particular automobile body shop you have the option to either take it there or take it to another automobile body repair shop of your choice.

The Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations Section 2695.8 (e) states:

(e) No insurer shall:

(1) require that an automobile be repaired at a specific repair shop; or,

(2) suggest or recommend that an automobile be repaired at a specific repair shop, unless all of the requirements set forth in California Insurance Code Section 758.5 have been met.

(3) require a claimant to travel an unreasonable distance either to inspect a replacement automobile, to conduct an inspection of the vehicle, to obtain a repair estimate or to have the automobile repaired at a specific repair shop.

Auto Replacement Parts

State Law requires that the use of aftermarket parts must be identified on the repair invoice.  Some automobile body replacement parts are equal, better, or worse than Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts.  Consumers should take note of the following:

(1) Check your invoice.   State law requires that the type of automobile parts used in repairs must be identified on the repair invoice. Consumers should carefully check their invoice to ensure that the automobile body shop has identified each automobile part as being one of the following: new, used, reconditioned, rebuilt, OEM crash part, or a non-OEM aftermarket crash part.

(2) Insurance companies are required under the Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations to warrant that non-OEM replacement parts are at least equal to the original equipment manufacturer parts in terms of kind, quality, safety, fit, and performance.

(3) If you have questions regarding your insurance claim or if you have a dispute with your insurance company, please call the California Department of Insurance's Consumer Hotline at (800) 927-4357 (HELP).

Regulations in California state that non-OEM (aftermarket) replacement parts are only permitted if the insurer can guarantee that the parts are equal in kind, quality, safety, fit and performance.

The California Code of Regulations Title 10 Chapter 5 Section 2695.8 (g) states:

(g) No insurer shall require the use of non-original equipment manufacturer replacement crash parts in the repair of an automobile unless all of the following conditions are met:

(1) the parts are at least equal to the original equipment manufacturer parts in terms of kind, quality, safety, fit, and performance;

(2) the insurer specifying the use of non-original equipment manufacturer replacement crash parts shall pay the cost of any modifications to the parts that may become necessary to effect the repair;

(3) the insurer specifying the use of non-original equipment manufacturer replacement crash parts warrants that such parts are at least equal to the original equipment manufacturer parts in terms of kind, quality, safety, fit,and performance.The insurer must disclose in writing, in any estimate prepared by or for the insurer, the fact that it warrants that such parts are at least equal to the original equipment manufacturer parts in terms of kind, quality, safety, fit, and performance;

(4) all original and non-original manufacturer replacement crash parts,manufactured after the effective date of this subdivision, when supplied by repair shops shall carry sufficient permanent, non-removable identification so as to identify the manufacturer. Such identification shall be accessible to the greatest extent possible after installation;and,

(5) the use of non-original equipment manufacturer replacement crash parts is disclosed in accordance with section 9875.1 of the California Business and Professions Code.

(6) If an insurer specifying the use of non-original equipment manufacturer replacement crash parts has knowledge that a part is not equal to the original equipment manufacturer part in terms of kind, quality, safety, fit, and performance, or does not otherwise comply with this section, it shall immediately cease requiring the use of the part and shall, within thirty (30) calendar days, notify the distributor of the non-compliant aspect of the part.

(7) In the repair of a particular vehicle, an insurer specifying the use of a non-original equipment manufacturer replacement crash part that is not equal to the original equipment manufacturer part in terms of kind, quality, safety, fit, and performance, or does not otherwise comply with this section, shall pay for the costs associated with returning the part and the cost to remove and replace the non-original equipment manufacturer part with a compliant non-original equipment manufacturer part or an original equipment manufacturer part.

(8) Nothing in this subdivision prohibits an insurer from seeking reimbursement or indemnification from a third party for the costs associated with the insurer's compliance with this subdivision, including, but not limited to, costs associated with the insurer's obligation to warrant the part, modifications to the part, or returning, removing or replacing a non-compliant, non-original equipment manufacturer part. However, seeking reimbursement or indemnification from a third party shall not in any way modify the insurer's obligation to comply with this subdivision.An insurer shall retain primary responsibility to comply with this subdivision and shall not refuse or delay compliance with this subdivision on the basis that responsibility for payment or compliance should be assumed by a third party.

Requirement for Permanent, Non-Removable Identification

CCR Section 2695.8(g)(4) requires that "all original and non-original manufacture replacement crash parts, manufactured after the effective date of this subchapter, when supplied by repair shops shall carry sufficient permanent, non-removable identification so as to identify the manufacturer."   An insurer shall not require that a repair shop install non-original manufacture replacement crash parts, or limit payment to the cost of a non-original manufacture replacement crash part, unless those parts comply with section 2695.8(g)(4) and carry sufficient permanent, non-removable identification so as to identify the manufacturer.  An insurer shall not limit payment to the cost of a non-original manufacture replacement crash part for any part that does not carry sufficient permanent, non-removable identification so as to identify the manufacturer.

Use of Non-Original Equipment Manufacture Replacement Crash Parts

CCR Section 2695.8(g)(1) provides that no insurer shall require the use of non-original equipment manufacture replacement crash parts in the repair of an automobile unless "the parts are at least equal to the original equipment manufacturer parts in terms of kind, quality, safety, fit, and performance" (emphasis added).  CCR Section 2695.8(g)(3) requires that "insurers specifying the use of non-original equipment manufacturer replacement crash parts warrant that such parts are at least equal to the original equipment manufacturer parts in terms of kind, quality, safety, fit, and performance."   The required use, or payment of the cost, of a non-original equipment manufacturer replacement crash part that is not equal in terms of kind, quality, safety, fit, and performance as compared to the original equipment manufacturer replacement part may subject the insurer to further action by this Department. 

It has come to the Department's attention that certain aftermarket bumper reinforcement bars may be significantly different in terms of like kind, quality, safety, fit, and performance as compared to the original equipment manufacturer replacement part.  All insurers doing business in California are reminded of the above noted standards for the use of non-original equipment manufacturer (aftermarket) replacement crash parts. 


State Law - Division 33 Bureau of Automotive Repair - Chapter 1 - Article 7

3353. Written Estimate Required for Repair or Maintenance; Exceeding Estimate; Authorization Required.

No work for compensation shall be commenced and no charges shall accrue without specific authorization from the customer in accordance with the following requirements:

(a) Estimate for Parts and Labor. Every dealer shall give to each customer a written estimated price for labor and parts for a specific job. All OEM crash parts and non-OEM aftermarket crash parts used in the repair shall be clearly identified on the written estimate. No dealer shall charge for work done or parts supplied in excess of the written estimated price without oral or written consent of the customer, and if such consent is oral the dealer shall make a notation on the work order and on the invoice of the date, time, name of person authorizing the additional repairs, and telephone number called, if any, together with a specification of the additional parts and labor and the total additional cost. The dealer shall obtain the customer's consent before any additional work not estimated is done or parts not estimated are supplied.

(b) Estimated Price to Tear Down, Inspect, Report and Reassemble. For purposes of this article, to "tear down" shall mean to disassemble, and "teardown" shall mean the act of disassembly. If it is necessary to tear down a vehicle component in order to prepare a written estimated price for required repair, the dealer shall first give the customer a written estimated price for the teardown. This price shall include the cost of reassembly of the component. The estimated price shall also include the cost of parts and necessary labor to replace items such as gaskets, seals and O rings that are normally destroyed by teardown of the component. If the act of teardown might prevent the restoration of the component to its former condition, the dealer shall write that information on the work order containing the teardown estimate before the work order is signed by the customer.

The repair dealer shall notify the customer orally and conspicuously in writing on the teardown estimate the maximum time it will take the repair dealer to reassemble the vehicle or the vehicle component in the event the customer elects not to proceed with the repair or maintenance of the vehicle and shall reassemble the vehicle within that time period if the customer elects not the proceed with the repair or maintenance. The maximum time shall be counted from the date of authorization of teardown.

The Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) offers an Auto Body Inspection program at no cost to consumers.  You can reach the BAR at (866) 799-3811 or visit them online at www.autorepair.ca.gov to learn more about this program.

 

The California Department of Insurance can help consumers through the Consumer Communications Bureau. If a consumer has a problem with a claim or a dispute with an insurance company, we encourage the policyholder to contact our Consumer Hotline at 1-800-927-4357 (HELP).  

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