Attorneys General across the country signed settlements ensuring refunds totaling $40 million to consumers who unknowingly purchased vehicles that were previously damaged and deemed total losses by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.
The Nevada Collision Industry Association (NCIA) wrapped up its first full year in a whirlwind of success. The handful of members who established the NCIA in October of 2003 has grown to 46, with the prospect of continuing to increase membership in 2005.
Farmers Insurance Exchange has begun serving civil summons and complaints upon a nationwide auto glass company and its president, accusing them of taking part in a scheme designed to defraud Farmers and its policyholders. The civil complaint, which is similar to prior successful lawsuits against body shops who submitted false insurance claims, seeks not only damages for the fraud committed, but seeks injunctive relief, where the courts are asked to order a halt to these deceptive practices.
America's car owners are having increasing trouble getting their cars repaired, according to a recent CBS television "Consumer News Alert." CBS News anchorman John Roberts says car dealers' service departments are gaining ground, and that could cost consumers time and money. The news segment aired January 21 on the "CBS Evening News with Dan Rather."
California authorities arrested ten auto body shop owners and employees in February, charging them with various felony counts of insurance fraud following "Operation Scorpion" - a joint investigation by the California Department of Insurance Fraud Division (CDI) and the San Mateo County District Attorney's office.
After a year-long investigation, seven Allpro Paint and Body shops in the San Diego area were shut down in November after their registrations were revoked by the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR).
A widespread and significant drop in ADP refinish labor times discovered in recent weeks will be corrected in ADP's November CD update release, which the company says has been sent to ADP customers.
Some shop owners say the use of aluminum in vehicles today is similar to the shifts in the industry caused by the rise of the unibody structure in the 1980s.
A committee of Oregon lawmakers last month said they like the concept of consumers being made aware of direct repair agreements between collision repair shops and insurers, but the details of how to accomplish that still needs some work.
A bill introduced in the California legislature in February would establish a legal presumption that "certified" non-OEM crash parts are legally of "like kind and quality" to OEM parts. Assembly Bill 1163 (AB 1163) would also invalidate the current law that prohibits an insurer from requiring the use of non-OEM parts unless the vehicle owner is told of and approves the use of such parts on his car, replacing it with the requirement that the following statement appear on the estimate: "This estimate has been prepared based on the use of crash parts supplied by the manufacturer of your vehicle or certified aftermarket crash parts supplied by an independent manufacturer."
Shop owners must remain ever attentive to legislation introduced to control aspects of the collision repair process. Provisions may be added to seemingly innocuous bills that can have devastating effects on how autobody shops do business. And a bill's sponsor can be a clue to the need for added vigilance.
In the blink of an eye, it was all over but the shouting. With the ink barely dry on a letter of intent from Caliber Collision Centers to purchase 27 shops from the financially troubled M2 Collision Care Centers, the deal was dead. According to Caliber Vice President John Walcher, as the due diligence began, it became apparent that the deal would not be consummated and Caliber pulled out. At press time, unconfirmed reports indicated that Caliber had not purchased a single M2 shop, but was negotiating on the large, still unsold Santa Monica location.