25 Investigated: Failed Insurance Job – Boston 25 News | CarTailz

When Lidiya Romanchuk picked up her car from a body shop in Malden, she immediately noticed something odd. Her aluminum grille had been replaced with a black one and didn’t match the trim of her 2017 Audi A6. Then she noticed something else. One of her four matching Pirelli tires had been replaced with another brand. Lidiya said all of her tires appeared in great condition when she brought the car.

Romanchuk is a Ukrainian-born women’s fashion designer. During an interview at her home in Revere, she told reporter Ted Daniel of 25 Investigates, “I work very hard to have my car and I polish my tires every week. I can tell my front tire isn’t my tire.’” Her grill and tire weren’t the only issues.

It all started in August when Romanchuk backed off a car while driving in Boston. A video she took shows minor damage to her grille and a dent in the bumper from the fender bender. A friend recommended Auto Body Squad based on the location of the store. She reported the accident to her insurance company, Progressive, and agreed to pay her $750 deductible.

Progressive originally estimated it would cost $1,454.66 to repair the car, but Auto Body Squad of Malden reported that they found more damage and the cost of the repairs rose to $6,863.64. According to the Auto Body Squad, the front headlights needed to be replaced at a cost of more than $3000.

Romanchuk had her car inspected by a progressive adjuster at the dealership she bought it from after it left Auto Body Squad. In a video she recorded, the appraiser is seen pointing out things Progressive paid for that Auto Body Squad never replaced, including the headlights. He can be heard saying, “There’s two thousand dollars insurance fraud I just proved.”

An email Progressive sent to the body shop said: “There are clearly several expensive parts that Progressive paid to have replaced. This didn’t happen. Also, the wrong grille on the front of her car was replaced and one of her Pirelli tires was inexplicably replaced with a Continental.”

Fabio Gomes owns Auto Body Squad. He told 25 Inquiries Romanchuk asked that their car be ready earlier for a trip and they were unable to complete all the work. When 25 investigates asked to see the headlights Progressive paid for, Gomes said he returned them to the dealer.

“You can’t say it’s cheating because the car was incomplete. You know, okay, that’s my point. That’s where I’m from,” Gomes said.

“I stand behind my work. I will do whatever is necessary. Like I said, it’s not the money,” explained Brian Harris, Auto Body Squad manager.

Harris said a black grille is linked to the car’s vehicle identification number, but an Audi technician who also accessed the VIN disputes this. As for the tyre, Harris said one of the Pirellis was leaking and he was doing Romanchuk a “favor” by replacing it for free.

25 investigations asked the workshop to provide text or documentation to show Romanchuk that they were still working on the car. None was provided.

Emails reviewed by 25 Investigates show Progressive is attempting to help Romanchuk resolve the issue, but we found the insurance company is not legally required to do so.

Reason: Auto Body Squad of Malden is not on Progressive’s list of Recommended or Approved Body Shops.

Anthony DiPaolo, executive director of Massachusetts Insurance Fraud Bureau, said auto insurance companies don’t have to intervene on behalf of customers if the deal isn’t on the insurer’s network.

“If you use what the insurance company recommends, the insurance company would step in and act on your behalf if there was a problem with the ongoing repair. It takes the pressure off the consumer,” DiPaolo said.

DiPaolo said most auto body shops play by the rules, but he warns that insurance fraud can come in many different forms, including jacked prices, unnecessary repairs, use of inferior parts and increased damage.

Romanchuk has filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office. The office confirmed they are investigating her complaint and another independent complaint involving Auto Body Squad. A spokesman could not comment further as the investigation is still ongoing.

25 investigations identified 147 complaints filed with the Attorney General since 2018 that mentioned “auto bodywork” or “collision repair.” The AG records more complaints related to cars than any other category.

Auto Body Squad manager Brain Harris told 25 Investigates he would refund Romanchuk for the uncompleted work. Romanchuk is still waiting for a check.

“I’m a sweet personality and happy and bubbly, but I’m Ukrainian and an unstoppable woman. That’s it. You wronged me for no reason, I chose you for my baby and my car, and you wronged me,” she said.

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