One by one, auto body shop owner Jeff Butler showed us shoddy work performed by shops connected to insurance companies. One example even included frame damage that was marked off as repaired.

They cut a hole, beat the buckle out and filled it in with Bondo and then painted over it. It looked ok, but there was massive remaining damage.

Saohouy Ieng discovered his truck had serious frame issues covered up by a body shop. He had to sue his insurer to cover the costs of the additional repairs.

They cut corners. Their preferred shops cut corners on repairing the car and they are trying to save money for the company itself but not for the consumer, said Ieng.

Tim McKinney runs Premier Collision Carstar in Tacoma. He said our previous stories got it all wrong about body shops that work with insurance companies.

In my view, (the story) set a negative light on all of us shops that have relationships with insurance companies. We are not all like the shops you featured in your story, McKinney.

McKinney said insurance companies pay for independent third party inspectors who check and recheck their shop's repairs and standards.

The insurance company doesn't come in and tell us how to do these repairs, or tell us to cut a corner to save us five bucks it just doesn't happen, explained McKinney.

The other issue is cycle times - how fast the job needs to get done. Some insurers keep shops on tight schedules. Critics claim the system doesn't allow workers to spend the necessary time to do the job right.

That's not to say another shop may have perceived it that way. But I have relationships with multiple insurance companies, and that's never ever discussed, said McKinney.

Here are some ways consumers can protect themselves:

  • Remember the law allows you to pick the shop of your choice, not the insurance company.
  • Research the shop and look for certifications.
  • Once the job is complete, have the work double checked especially if the frame was damaged.
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