This is most likely not the steering you think you know. Not heard of steering used in this context before? Take heart though, you’re not alone. Many others haven’t heard of it before, myself included until recently. An encounter with your insurance company after a collision will introduce you to this term. Well, not really, you won’t even know what’s going on just as I didn’t know what was going on until it was pointed out to me by a concerned friend.
It might not seem like a real issue, but just wait until you hear my story.
My Personal Steering Experience
No need to go into all the exciting details about the collision. So, my car had just gotten into a bad but not really bad collision and since it’s a vehicle I use every day, I had to fix it as soon as possible. I towed it to a repair shop recommended by one of my friends. Before repairs could start the adjuster tells me I can fix my car at the repair shop that my friend recommended but the repairs won’t be guaranteed by the insurance company.
He also went on to inform me I’ll pay for the remaining cost because this shop charged a higher fee than the insurance DRP shop. Since I didn’t have that much money to pay the difference, I towed my car to the DRP shop where it was fixed. The insurance company paid for the whole cost and I got my car back.
But I started noticing some subtle changes in the performance of my vehicle. You know that subtle shift in performance that only you can tell and not anyone else? That was the case with mine. Since my car was still under its warranty period, I drove it to a repair shop that offered warranty repairs. After inspection, I was told my warranty was void. I couldn’t believe it. My car isn’t up to a year old and its warranty is already void! Unbelievable! I argued quite vehemently until the manager asked me if I’d recently had the car repaired, I told him about the collision. He told me some of the replaced parts were not made by my car’s manufacturer thereby rendering my warranty void.
Angry and frustrated I recounted the story to a friend – not the one who recommended the repair shop, another friend – and he looked at me sympathetically and said: “You were steered”. Since I didn’t know what that meant, he explained to me.
Steering with regards to collision repair is when an insurance agent – an adjuster – makes subtle efforts and hints to dissuade you from getting your car fixed at your preferred shop after a collision or an accident which requires you to do some major repairs on your vehicle.
There are many ways insurers steer, but they usually go with telling customers “you’ll pay for the difference if you use that shop” or “your repairs won’t be guaranteed if you go there”, the same thing I was told.
The truth of the matter is, you have the right to choose whatever shop repairs your vehicle. You don’t need to take your vehicle to a shop on the list you’ve been given. The repair shops on that list fix vehicles at very low rates. There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact, good for them. The real issue arises with the sort of parts that are used to replace your ruined ones. Most of the replacement parts are cheap and are not manufacturer made. This renders your car’s warranty void, just as mine was. I didn’t know this, neither did the mechanic at the repair shop did. So the adjuster took advantage of our ignorance.
If I’d known, I’d have had my car fixed at the recommended shop and the damaged parts would have been replaced with manufacturer made parts, my car will still have its warranty and it will function as it always did before the collision.
How to Prevent This From Happening to You
Get Educated on Steering
Knowledge of steering and the laws in place will keep saving from adjusters who want to prey on your ignorance. Contact the Automotive Service Association(ASA). Find out as much as you can about steering. Every state has steering laws, make sure to have a copy of your state’s steering laws.
You can also call the Society of Collision Repair Specialists or email them for info about steering. You should also reach out to any other association or body you feel will have information about steering.
If you feel this is much, try ignorance, but know the health and safety of your car are on the line.
Don’t Keep the Information to yourself – Educate Your Families and Friends as Well
If my friend had told me about steering earlier, a lot of negative emotions would have been avoided. And no, Everything has to lead up to the creation this blog which you’re now reading. Also, inform as many people as you can and in due course, this steering problem will be a thing of the past
It’s worth mentioning that not all insurance companies go around steering their customers. I just happen to be a customer of one that did. But is still best to be educated on steering in case a time comes when it looks like an adjuster is trying to pull one on you.