Tallahassee, Florida -- March 10, 2014 -- A group of collision repair facilities in Florida have filed an antitrust action against a group comprised of over forty insurers. Among other items, plaintiffs allege that State Farmâ€™s vendor agreement requires shops participating in hits preferred provider program to accept market rate, and that State Farm calculates those rates in such a way as to keep them artificially low.
The case, A&E Auto Body v. 21st Century Centennial Insurance Co., d/b/a Farmers Insurance Group et al, also alleges that the other insurer defendants have advised plaintiffs that they will pay no more for labour than State Farm does.
"Over the course of several years, the defendants have engaged in an ongoing, concerted and intentional course of action with State Farm acting as the spearhead to improperly and illegally control and depress automobile damage repair costs to the detriment of the plaintiffs and the substantial profit of the defendants," the complaint says.
At the heart of the action is an assertion by the plaintiffs that defendantsâ€™ conduct essentially constitutes price fixing.
According to a story published by Law360, State Farm has said in a statement that the suit has no merit, "'and in no way accurately describes the business relationship State Farm has with thousands of body shops across the country.' Representatives of other insurers did not immediately respond to requests for comment."