NEW ORLEANS - Jennifer Jones has been driving a rental car for nearly a month. She says an insurance company has given her the runaround when it comes to fixing her Chevy Malibu.
Now, Jones is borrowing hundreds of dollars from a relative, and has even hired a lawyer, to help bring her car back to the condition it was in before her neighbor crashed into her parked car.
'A huge headache. It's been very stressful,' said Jones. 'My car was hit while I was in my house asleep.'
Jones said the biggest issue, is her neighbor's insurance company, USAgencies, refuses to pay for certain factory parts. Jones doesn't want after-market parts because the quality can be questionable, and they can void your warranty.
It's a problem with virtually every insurance company in the state, said Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell. Now his office is suing the state's biggest insurance company, State Farm.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges the company uses 'scare tactics' to steer drivers to certain auto shops, then forces those shops to make cheap, quick repairs with substandard, after-market parts, which can be foreign knock-offs or even parts from junk yards.
'Unsafe repairs affect the consumers who have unsafe parts on their vehicles, anyone sharing the road with them,' said Caldwell at a news conference in Baton Rouge.
'The description in this lawsuit is not in line with State Farm's mission to serve the needs of its customers, and our long, proud history of achievements in advancing vehicle safety. We are reviewing the lawsuit and will have more to share soon,' said Phil Supple, a State Farm corporate spokesman.
Caldwell is hoping the lawsuit changes a culture of what he calls 'unsafe business practices.' He said if State Farm changes its ways, other companies will likely follow.
As for Jones, she just hopes the insurance company eventually forks up the cash to bring her car back to its pre-crash condition.
'If I let you just do anything to my car now, and I'm paying money on a car that doesn't run a year from now, where am I?' said Jones.