A frequent question I am asked in car and truck accident cases is when does the owner have the right to have their vehicle repaired with new factory authorized parts? In Indiana, unfortunately this right only definitely exists when the repairs are being paid for by the owner’s own insurance company and the vehicle is 5 years old or less.
Specifically, Ind. Code 27-4-1.5-8 states that a vehicle’s owner has a right to have their vehicle repaired with new factory authorized parts if the vehicle is not more than 5 years and the vehicle has insurance that will pay for property damage to that vehicle. This policy of insurance would be either a collision or comprehensive insurance policy. Thus, for example, if my car was damaged in a crash, the car was 5 years old or less, and I had a policy of insurance that insured the car for property damage, I would have the right to have the vehicle repaired by my own insurance company with new factory authorized parts.
Unfortunately, this statute does not apply to the liability insurance of a negligent person who causes damage to someone else’s car or truck. In those circumstances, the liability insurer for the negligent person does not have a legal obligation to use new factory authorized parts, but only to pay for “reasonable repairs.”
Surprisingly, there is no Indiana case that has defined exactly what is a “reasonable repair.” This is probably because most people assume that their vehicle is being fixed with new factory authorized parts, when in fact it may not be! As a practical matter, if the damaged vehicle is 5 years old or less, I would argue that “reasonable repairs” still means the use of new factory authorized parts, even if another person’s insurance company is paying for the repair. For older vehicles, this may be more difficult.
The moral of the story is to make sure you have a good understanding of exactly what coverage is provided by your own insurance policy, and to carefully read a repair estimate to see what parts are being used to fix your vehicle. If in doubt, call my office for a free consultation to make sure you’re being treated fairly.