It is important to know your rights after a car accident.  Sometimes you may feel pressure from the insurance adjuster to force you to use a particular body shop.  You don’t have to cave if you don’t want to use that body shop, for whatever reason.  You can get your car fixed anywhere you want.  Don’t let the insurance company tell you that they only work with certain body shops and you must bring your car to a particular body shop.

Montana Code Annotated § 33-18-224(1)(i) states that an insurance company “may not require that a claimant under the policy use a particular automobile body repair business or location for an estimate or a repair.”  The same Montana law protects you—the consumer and the person harmed by someone else’s negligence—by prohibiting the insurance company from engaging in coercive, threatening, or intimidating behavior.

  • The insurance company cannot intimidate, coerce or threaten you to use a particular body shop. 33-18-224(1)(ii), MCA
  • The insurance company cannot provide you with an incentive or inducement to use a particular body shop. 33-18-224(1)(iii), MCA.
  • The insurance company cannot unilaterally disregard a repair operation or cost identified by an estimating system that the insurer and an automobile body repair business or location have agreed to utilize in determining the cost of repair. 33-18-224(1)(iv), MCA.

You can also ask the insurance company for a list of repair shops that are nearby, and the insurance company must provide it to you.

The at-fault driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying for the reasonable repairs necessary to repair your car for damages that resulted from the crash.  Most body shops in Montana work directly with insurance companies to process payments of the claims.  However, if a body shop has not worked with a particular insurance company before, be sure to provide the body shop with the insurance company property damage adjuster name, contact information, and claim number.  Let the property damage adjuster know which body shop you have chosen so they can process the payment.

My Own Insurance Company Fixed or Replaced my Car and Charged me a Deductible

If you report the claim to your own insurance company and you have full coverage (aka collision coverage; or property damage coverage) they may step in to help you with your reimbursement of the claim but charge you a deductible.  Be sure to let your own insurance company know the name and contact information of the other driver’s insurance company.  There are times when your own insurance company processes a property damage/replacement claim quicker than the at-fault driver’s insurance company.  In this case, your insurance company will work with the at-fault insurer to collect money back and reimburse you the deductible amount.  This can take some time to occur and your insurance adjuster will be able to give you a timeline of how long it will take to get reimbursed.

What if the Other Driver Doesn’t Have Property Damage Insurance or Doesn’t Have Enough Property Damage Insurance?

Unfortunately, there are times when the other driver does not have insurance at all, or does not have enough insurance to cover the property damage.

In either case, you should put in a claim to your own insurance company.  Your own insurance company should inform you of the coverage available to cover the property damage and what type of uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage you carry.

What if the other driver’s property damage policy is not enough to cover the damage?  Montana law requires that individual drivers carry $25,000 in property damage insurance.  Sometimes this isn’t enough to cover the cost of repairs.  In this case, hopefully you have full coverage on your vehicle and your own insurance will step in to cover the remainder over the $25,000.

If the at-fault driver does not have insurance, you may also have to pay for a rental car while your car is being fixed, unless you have some rental car coverage on your own insurance policy.