Watch CBS News

Chicago area auto mechanic out $1,800 after customer doesn't give him insurance check

Suburban Chicago auto mechanic burned on good-faith repair
Suburban Chicago auto mechanic burned on good-faith repair 03:30

MARKHAM, Ill. (CBS) – A suburban mechanic got burned when he said his customer never paid him an insurance check for a repair job.

In his 40 years as an auto mechanic, Kent Hill has repaired many problems. Still, he recently encountered an issue he couldn't fix— his interpretation of how insurance provider Allstate handled a recent claim that came into Hill's Auto Repair in Markham.

It started with the arrival of a Dodge Charger filled with bullet holes.

"The guy got carjacked, attempted carjacking," Hill said. "And getting away, I guess they shot his car up."

Upon closer inspection, the car needed more than patching and painting. Hill said a bullet went through the vehicle from one side to the other side, damaging both door panels and the regulators where the window sits.

Allstate paid Hill directly for part of the claim, but the cost associated with the original estimate, nearly $1,800, never made it to Hill's auto shop.

"It's not a lot of money," Hill said. "It's the principle. I'm going to be honest. It's just the principle of it all."

It was an act of good faith that got the best of Hill. He believed the customer when they said the insurance check for the remainder of the claim got lost in the mail. Hill gave the customer the car without obtaining the money from him.

"I assumed under normal protocol that it would be a two-party check," Hill said.

By "two-party check," he meant when the customer's name is listed on one line and Hill's Auto Repair on the other. The money is only to be released when both people sign it.

Hill's customer never returned with the check. Then, Allstate informed the mechanic that the money was cashed.

"I would never think somebody would be able to cash that check without me and them signing it," Hill said.

He said Allstate then said the check never included the name "Hill's Auto Repair," only the customer's because the job cost less than $3,500. The seasoned repairman said he never heard of that Allstate policy.

"Whenever it changed, I don't know when. I can't tell you," Hill said. "They won't tell me."

Allstate wouldn't tell CBS 2, either. In an email to Hill, Allstate said it "will not issue a duplicate payment for the damage."

Two-party checks are intended to avoid drama. CBS 2 has reported on one-party insurance payments that don't list the customer's name but go directly to a repair business that never does the work.

"I guarantee you if I would've done that, they would be here," Hill said. 

Hill is referring to an insurance investigator and possibly the police. In the meantime, CBS 2 called the driver to see if he forgot to pay Hill's Auto Repair but was unable to reach him.

"This is the way I see it. They shot at his car, so you would think he would be the most humblest guy on Earth," Hill said.

Hill said he's never had such a problem before.

"This is new," he said.

CBS 2 asked an Allstate spokesperson several times to clarify its one-party check policy, but they never entirely gave one. Hill said he's changing his rules: no more cars released without payment.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.