(a) No insurer shall require that an automobile be repaired at a specific automotive repair dealer, as defined in Section 9880.1 of the Business and Professions Code .
(b)(1) No insurer shall suggest or recommend that an automobile be repaired at a specific automotive repair dealer unless either of the following applies:
(A) A referral is expressly requested by the claimant.
(B) The claimant has been informed in writing of the right to select the automotive repair dealer.
(2) An insurer may provide the claimant with specific truthful and nondeceptive information regarding the services and benefits available to the claimant during the claims process. This may include, but is not limited to, information about the repair warranties offered, the type of replacement parts to be used, the anticipated time to repair the damaged vehicle, and the quality of the workmanship available to the claimant.
(3) If an insurer's recommendation of an automotive repair dealer is accepted by the claimant, the insurer shall cause the damaged vehicle to be restored to its condition prior to the loss at no additional cost to the claimant other than as stated in the policy or as is otherwise allowed by law. If the recommendation of an automotive repair dealer is done orally, and if the oral recommendation is accepted by the claimant, the insurer shall provide the information contained in this paragraph, as noted in the statement below, to the claimant at the time the recommendation is made. The insurer shall mail or provide the notice required by this paragraph within five calendar days from the acceptance of the recommendation. The written notice required by this paragraph shall include the following statement plainly printed in no less than 10-point type in a separate and freestanding document:
“WE ARE PROHIBITED BY LAW FROM REQUIRING THAT REPAIRS BE DONE AT A SPECIFIC AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR DEALER. YOU ARE ENTITLED TO SELECT THE AUTO BODY REPAIR SHOP TO REPAIR DAMAGE COVERED BY US. WE HAVE RECOMMENDED AN AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR DEALER THAT WILL REPAIR YOUR DAMAGED VEHICLE. WE RECOMMEND YOU CONTACT ANY OTHER AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR DEALER YOU ARE CONSIDERING TO CLARIFY ANY QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE REGARDING SERVICES AND BENEFITS. IF YOU AGREE TO USE OUR RECOMMENDED AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR DEALER, WE WILL CAUSE THE DAMAGED VEHICLE TO BE RESTORED TO ITS CONDITION PRIOR TO THE LOSS AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU OTHER THAN AS STATED IN THE INSURANCE POLICY OR AS OTHERWISE ALLOWED BY LAW. IF YOU EXPERIENCE A PROBLEM WITH THE REPAIR OF YOUR VEHICLE, PLEASE CONTACT US IMMEDIATELY FOR ASSISTANCE.”
(c) Except as provided in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1) of subdivision (b), or as to information of the kind authorized by paragraph (2) of subdivision (b), after the claimant has chosen an automotive repair dealer, the insurer shall not suggest or recommend that the claimant select a different automotive repair dealer.
(d) Any insurer that, by the insurance contract, suggests or recommends that an automobile be repaired at a particular automotive repair dealer shall also do both of the following:
(1) Prominently disclose the contractual provision in writing to the insured at the time the insurance is applied for and at the time the claim is acknowledged by the insurer.
(2) If the claimant elects to have the vehicle repaired at the shop of his or her choice, the insurer shall not limit or discount the reasonable repair costs based on charges that would have been incurred had the vehicle been repaired by the insurer's chosen shop.
(e) For purposes of this section, “claimant” means a first-party claimant or insured, or a third-party claimant who asserts a right of recovery for automotive repairs under an insurance policy.
(f) The powers of the commissioner to enforce this section shall include those granted in Article 6.5 (commencing with Section 790 ) of Chapter 1 of Part 2 of Division 1.
(g) The changes to this section made by the act enacted during the 2009-10 Regular Session that amended this section shall only apply to actions filed on or after January 1, 2010.
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