What are my rights regarding property damage? Often people ask this question after the insurance company offers an unreasonably low amount for settlement of a property damage claim. If your vehicle has been totaled the insurance company will usually offer you the book value. In Montana however, the insurance company is liable for the actual replacement value of the motor vehicle rather than its "book" value. To establish the actual value you can look at the retail value listed in the N.A.D.A. Guide or Blue Book. Another guide you may consider consulting is the Used Car Price Guide which has different categories for condition and options to increase the amount you would receive. These guides may be reviewed at your local library. Furthermore, look carefully at the value enhancing options and make sure you get credit for these. If the books do not reflect the actual value you may copy advertisements from the newspaper or get quotes from car dealers and submit these to the insurance company for consideration. If you have to take the insurance company to Court in a property damage claim only and you recover more than the insurance company's last offer, you may also recover attorney's fees. Sec. 27-1-306 M.C.A.
Do I have to go to the Auto Body shop recommended by the insurance company? No. Montana Law Prohibits insurance companies from requiring a person to use a particular company or location for providing repair services. Sec 33-18-221 M.C.A.
Determine the value of a Vehicle: You can determine the value of an automobile on the internet at the following locations:
Why should I look for an independent repair shop? The purpose of the above law is to protect the consumer. An auto body shop with a special deal or side agreement with the insurance company does not serve the customer but instead the insurance company. The insurance company's auto body shop may not provide the consumer with a full and fair estimate of all damages including hidden damage in order to save the insurance company money and protect their business with the insurance company. The insurance company 's auto body shop may tend to cut corners by using inferior or used parts. Some insurance company's auto body shops will pay a kickback to the insurance company.
How to file a complaint? If you have experienced a problem with an insurance company recommending an auto body shop you may file a complaint with the Montana Insurance Commission.
Anderson & Bliven does not warrant or recommend any particular auto body shop, other than to recommend that consumers seek repairs form an independent body shop.
You can download a complaint from their Web Site. There is no charge to file a complaint with the Insurance Commission. Filing a complaint will help stop unfair insurance practices in Montana. Montana Insurance Commission
The Montana personal injury attorneys at Anderson & Bliven, P.C., handle all types of Personal Injury, Criminal Law, Family Law, Business Law, and Social Security Disability matters in Kalispell, Columbia Falls, Whitefish, and throughout the state of Montana. If you have been injured by a foodborne illness, auto accident, or suffered any type of injury, call our Kalispell personal injury attorneys at (406) 755-6828 or toll-free at (888) 757-6828 for a free consultation with an experienced attorney.