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KY, IN body shops join national lawsuit against top insurance companies

Published: Feb. 12, 2015 at 9:21 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 29, 2015 at 8:34 PM EDT
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Doug Martin (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Doug Martin (Source: WAVE 3 News)

NEW SALISBURY, IN (WAVE) – Hundreds of body shops across the country have teamed up to go head to head against top insurance companies claiming safety is at stake.

The lawsuit claims that insurance providers are putting drivers in danger with some of their practices.

Several shops in Kentucky and Indiana are listed as plaintiffs. Places like Clarksville Collision and Martin's Body Shop are named in the suit, while others preferred not to be named in fear of losing their livelihood.

For more than four decades, Martin's Body Shop in Harrison County prides itself on building relationships with its customers.

"They know that we are here for them and that's ultimately what we are here to do is to fix their car as it is supposed to be," said Doug Martin, the general manager of Martin's Body Shop.

Martin's is just one of 500 auto garages named in a lawsuit against several well known insurance companies. Even three attorney generals in Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma are now involved.

According to the lawsuit filed in Indiana, in the last several years insurers have tried to cut corners and encourage body shops to use unsafe parts and unsafe methods on their cars.

Martin says a lot of times, estimates preformed by insurance companies are drastically different than what they would charge.

"Generally, it is substantially more and it is uncomfortable at times because they don't understand what to do," said Martin.

The suit states that if the shop doesn't go along with the suggested repairs, than the insurers may steer their clients elsewhere, such as not to be considered a preferred provider.

"We may not score the highest on their so called score cards or the highest on their list because we might not do exactly how they want it done because that's not the cheap, fast way to do it," said Martin. "We are ultimately going to do it the proper way, safely."

The major insurers deny these claims. State Farm released a statement to CNN saying: "Our customers choose where their vehicles are going to be repaired. We provide information about our Select Service program while at the same time making it clear they can select which shop will do the work."

To read the lawsuits filed in Kentucky, click here. To read the lawsuits filed in Indiana, click here.

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