Can I sue my insurer for a breach contract?

I had an auto accident in January, 2016, and I am insured by Statefarm. I was told I could choose any bodyshop, and I chose to go with the only Jaguar certified shop in Washington state. It’s been more than 2.5 months today, my car is due to be delivered tomorrow, April 12th 2016, and Statefarm is suddenly refusing to pay the labor rate for paint and refinishing to the body shop. Their claim is that the rate is too high and not competitive. However, it seems like they’ve paid the exact same rate on several prior occasions to the same body shop. The body shop claims that their rates haven’t changed, and that they’re high because they’re the only ones certified for Jaguar Land Rover and Tesla. After a lot of back and forth, Statefarm is refusing to budge from their position and are refusing to pay the extra cost of labor for these items. At this point the out of pocket cost for me is coming up to 2400 excluding my deductible.

Asked on April 11, 2016 under Insurance Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

An insurance policy is a contract: if under the terms of the policy, as well as under the terms of any written exchanges or correspondence (e.g. emails, letters, faxes) between you and the insurer to clarify or confirm the coverage, they should have paid more, then they may be in breach and you could sue them for the extra money. For  the amount of money you describe as being at stake, a good option is to sue in small claims, acting as your own attorney ("pro se") to save on legal fees. You would try to show that under the terms of the contract and any other agreements between you and they, they should have paid the extra money.


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