Aftermarket Parts Following an Auto Accident
If you are a Connecticut consumer and your car has been damaged in an accident, you may have questions about your rights in the repair process. Most consumers are aware that they have the right to choose the facility that performs the repairs-- but what about aftermarket parts?
Connecticut Law Regarding OEM Parts
Unlike some other states, Connecticut law provides a large amount of discretion to insurers to use non-OEM ("OEM" stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer), or "after market" parts. State law only requires that the insurer or estimating facility provide you with a notice that the estimate is based on the use of non-OEM parts. If you would like to use OEM parts, you have the option to pay the difference between the value of the non-OEM part and the OEM one. However, Connecticut insurance law generally does not obligate the insurer to use OEM parts.
If you receive an estimate based on the use of non-OEM parts, the insurer and/or estimating facility has to identify the specific non-OEM part in the estimate, as well as include the following notice, in at least 10-point type:
"This repair estimate is based in part on the use of replacement parts which are not made by the original manufacturer of the damaged parts in your motor vehicle."
Failure to include this notice is a per se violation of the Connecticut Insurance Practices Act ("CUIPA") as well as the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act ("CUTPA"). Both statutes allow the consumer to claim their damages, plus punitive damages and attorney's fees and costs.
Your Contractual Rights Regarding OEM Parts
Your insurance policy may provide you with additional rights beyond what is specified in the Connecticut General Statutes. For example, if the contract provides that the insurer will replace parts that are of like kind and quality, and the proposed non-OEM parts are not of like kind and quality, you may have the right to dispute the use of non-OEM parts. Your policy may also have provisions indicating that the insurer is obligated to use OEM parts where possible. Before agreeing to the use of a non-OEM part, read your policy carefully.