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Most auto insurers won't pay dealer's 'shop supplies' charge

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MESA, AZ (CBS5) -

A Mesa man says his auto insurance company short-changed him on a covered claim, paying for almost the entire repair at a dealership - except a $20 "shop supplies" charge. 

When your insurance company is paying to repair damage to your car as part of a collision or comprehensive claim, they don't always pay the entire bill. Some repairs, covered at 100 percent, may still include small out-of-pocket expenses to you.

"Something went in through the grill," John Fleishans said.

It happened to his car while he was driving. Fleishans says whatever it was pierced his air conditioning system and disabled it. He drove straight to his dealer.

"Wait, this is a comprehensive claim, because it wasn't collision, that's for sure. It was a valid claim, and I called Liberty Mutual," Fleishans said.

Fleishans paid the entire repair bill, but when he received Liberty Mutual's reimbursement check, it was exactly $20 short.

"The $20 was 'shop supplies' which every dealer I've dealt with in this Valley has as a line item," Fleishans said.

"Shop supplies" is a miscellaneous charge for fluids and hardware that many car dealers add to all repair invoices - every customer pays it. Fleishans quickly learned his insurer's policy on the matter.

"Liberty Mutual does not pay shop supplies, and I have an email from them that says this," Fleishans said.

Since he wanted his dealer to do the repair, and he didn't have a choice in paying the fee, Fleishans felt Liberty Mutual was short-changing him. If they're paying the full cost of the repair, it should include the shop supplies charge. After he complained loud enough, Liberty Mutual finally reimbursed him the $20, but Fleishans isn't happy.

"It's such a small claim, that dribbling it in like this just gives you a bad taste," Fleishans said.

The Arizona Insurance Council told CBS 5 News that auto insurers have full discretion on whether or not to pay "shop supplies", so check your policy or call your insurer and ask.

Liberty Mutual told CBS 5 News it is their policy *not* to pay these charges. They typically refer customers to independent repair shops that don't charge a "shop supply" fee. They paid it in Fleishans case as a goodwill gesture because he had a long track record with the company.

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