Supply chain issues delay car repairs, leaving Illinois drivers stranded

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Damaged cars are not repaired and insurance companies refuse to help

Car accidents are bad enough. Now drivers have another problem to deal with when an accident occurs. Supply chain issues make it difficult to source auto parts. Often, repair work takes several months or even longer to complete.

Eddie Zipperstein owns Richard’s Body Shop in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago.

“I don’t see it fading anytime soon,” he said. “We need a part and the car is just sitting.”

That’s what happened to Stacy Stone after her Honda minivan was damaged in an accident in early December. Originally, his body shop in the suburb of Countryside said the vehicle would be repaired in three weeks. But weeks have turned into months and there is still no end in sight.

“I’m very afraid there’s no resolution,” Stone said.

She said Geico, her insurance company, refuses to declare her van complete, although it’s unclear if the part she needs will ever be available.

“The insurance company could solve this problem,” said insurance expert lawyer Steve Pollack. “They could pay as a total loss, take the vehicle and when the part arrives, resell it. They would probably end up making money.

A Geico spokesperson declined to comment.

Pollack said there is language in the state insurance code to protect consumers from “unreasonable” delays. But the measure, he said, is rarely enforced by the Illinois Department of Insurance.

A state spokeswoman had no immediate comment.

Stone knows she’s not alone in this impasse and hopes state regulators will force insurers to compromise with customers, as long as supply chain issues exist.

“In Illinois there is no protection,” she said. “It’s a horrible situation. I hope that collectively people can figure out how to improve this.

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