New York Shop Owner Fights Progressive
By Scott Long
Greg Coccaro persists in his lawsuit against the Progressive Insurance
Coccaro, the owner of North State Custom, a collision repair shop in
Bedford Hills, N.Y., alleges that Progressive has been steering customers
away from his shop and into its DRP and/or Concierge program by making
"misleading and knowingly false and/or exaggerated statements"
about the shop and other independent body shops.
In response, Progressive has hired a law firm and has filed a motion
to dismiss on the grounds that Coccaro is suing over a regulation (steering),
which is something that only a government agency can do.
However, Coccaro and his attorney are looking into whether they can still
move forward with the tortious interference and deceptive business practices
aspects of their case. "I feel these will stand," Coccaro told
the CRASH Network in Washington, D.C. "We have to survive this motion
of theirs, then we can go on," he said.
"I don't know how insurance companies get the same word track. It
seems like they're all working out of the same office," said Coccaro.
"They go from 'we won't guarantee the repair' to 'it will take longer
if you take your vehicle to this shop, and we won't be able to look at
your vehicle for seven days,' and then on to the out-of-pocket expenses
and on down the list."
Coccaro was recently shown on T.V. in a piece aired by FOX 23 News in
Albany, N.Y. The piece focused on insurance companies steering customers
away from certain body shops.
FOX 23 News showed Coccaro playing a tape recording he made of a Progressive
representative telling one of his customers, "You can choose whatever
shop you want. But understand, in choosing this shop, you're accepting
all the difficulties that are going to come with it. And I can guarantee
you there will be."
From 2001 through 2006, Coccaro said he had only 34 Progressive jobs.
"Some years I had none," he said. "Progressive is the third
largest insurer in the country behind State Farm and Allstate. I've had
hundreds of State Farm and Allstate repairs. That's how effective Progressive
Coccaro said he's had Progressive customers in his shop who, a couple
hours later, phone and say they want to move their car to another shop.
"They won't even talk to us," he said. "That, to me, implies
that there's more being said by Progressive. They're over the top. They
make innuendos and comments to make us seem like we're illegitimate and
we overcharge. It's not a good situation."
It should be noted that North State Custom is a certified repairer for
BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo.
Speaking about DRPs in general, Coccaro said most consumers wouldn't
believe some of the things that insurers write into these contracts. "If
they only knew that the insurance company isn't guaranteeing the repair.
The shop is," said Coccaro. "My warranty is better than the
He added that a majority of consumers have no idea that insurance companies
basically have DRPs simply to save themselves money, suppress labor rates,
and avoid liability.
Coccaro's message to the industry is simple: "Stop crying to each
other and get this in the media. I don't care if we have to hire a P.R.
firm. Spend the money, or nothing is going to change."
He added, "What's happening is the grand scale theft of billions
of dollars being taken from consumers and shops. And no one is doing anything
about it. It amazes me."
Scott Long, an editor for the CRASH Network in Washington, D.C., has
been writing about the collision repair industry for 17 years.
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