POSTED: Thursday, October 1, 2009 - 6:30am
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 2:24pm
EL PASO--- An East El Paso body shop owner approached NewsChannel 9 with insurance estimates from the recent hail storm that he says show one insurance company may have kept some of the money customers had coming.
Cars riddled with dents have been brought in to the Sergio Lewis Body Shop after this month's hail storm dropped golf-ball sized ice all over East El Paso.
Now Lewis says, Allstate Insurance is taking advantage.
"I don't feel that it's fair, when an estimate is written by an insurance company, they're automatically deducting 10 percent on parts," he said.
According to Lewis, the estimates he receives from Allstate show lines of 10 percent discounts on all car parts.
The discounts can add up to a pretty penny, more than $200 in several of his latest projects.
But the Lewis Body Shop never even offered that discount to Allstate, said Lewis.
"If I'm going to give a discount, I'm going to give it to the customer, or the consumer. I'm not going to give it to the insurance company," he said.
Allstate does offer a way to get that money back to shops, Lewis said, but he has to send in a refund claim then wait up to three weeks to get the money back.
Moreover, those discounts represent money that in some cases, should be put in the customers' pocket.
"For example, if a customer decides they're not going to repair their vehicle, (and) if the estimate was written with the 10 percent deduction on parts, the consumer doesn't realize they've just left some money on the table," said Lewis.
NewsChannel 9 spoke to an Allstate representative about Lewis' claim. She says it was simply a clerical error, and the company is now working to fix it.
Yet when we asked what type of clerical error it was and what consumers should do if they've already been paid on claims, the spokeswoman could not answer those questions.
Lewis thinks it's all an excuse to save money.
"How can it be a clerical error? Ever since the cat claims, the catastrophe claims started here in el paso recently, every estimate I've seen has been with the deduction of 10 percent," he said.
While some auto shops do have deals with insurance companies, some, like Lewis', do not.
Customers should check to see if their auto shop does deal in discounts to Allstate, so they get their full claim's worth.