Tuesday, 06 August 2013 01:00

A Look Back at this Month in Collision News History

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This month we begin a new type of column that takes a look back at this month in collision history 20, 15, 10 and 5 years ago. You may be surprised how many issues we think of as recent concerns were in the news back then. Keep in mind that these stories may have turned out differently than the way they were reported at the time. Where they did, we attempt to clarify the later outcome.

20 years ago (August 1993)
Collision repairers may soon be hearing about EXACT, a Colorado-based foundation that wants to see body shops take part in an early trial of its autobody repair standards.
So far, the foundation’s executive director, Phil Freeman, has sent out applications for membership to repairers in Rochester, NY, and Chicago. If they take part, shops pay $3,160 after undergoing extensive training, testing and certification. While shops may balk at paying yet another fee for another organization that’s supposed to bring them success, EXACT wants to establish comprehensive industry standards that will be for autobody work what building codes are for building contractors.
“One of the things we’re trying to do is keep it out of the hands of lawmakers,” Freeman said. “A legislator could come in and try to establish something for an industry he’s not too familiar with.”
Already EXACT has spent three years writing up 140 pages of repair standards that Freeman expects to become even more refined over the years. Called the Uniform Autobody Repair Code, the standards will have to be approved by the collision repair industry.
“They’ve been through a technical committee of 27 shop owners,” Freeman said. “We anticipate approval around the first of the year.”
►The EXACT Foundation subsequently reached an agreement with I-CAR under which that organization would continue to develop, manage and market the code under the name Uniform Procedures for Collision Repair (UPCR)

15 years ago (August 1998)
I-CAR also made two significant announcements about its Uniform Procedures for Collision Repair (UPCR) at its annual meeting. First, Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc., has agreed to provide its Toyota and Lexus collision repair manuals for inclusion with the UPCR. Beginning with the January update to the UPCR, subscribers will have access to the same collision repair technical information made available to Toyota and Lexus dealers.
I-CAR’s Tom Mack said he hopes Toyota is just the first of many vehicle manufacturers to make their collision repair manuals available to UPCR subscribers.
The second announcement about the UPCR made at the meeting was that 20th Century Insurance Company has become the first insurer to purchase the UPCR for widespread use by its employees.
John Bierer of 20th Century said he was charged earlier this year with improving the consistency of the estimating, adjusting and reinspection efforts of the insurer’s staff. He said after reviewing the UPCR with his claims office management, he presented it to his superiors as the solution they were looking for.
“Each one of our adjusters, our quality control reinspectors, our supervisors and mangers will have a copy of UPCR on their laptops to use in their adjusting, inspecting and quality control,” Bierer said, adding that he hopes other insurers will follow 20th Century’s lead. ”I think it’s what we’ve been looking for for quite some time.”
► I-CAR one year later shelved its UPCR product, which included collision repair procedures as well as vehicle and product manufacturer- specific information, saying sales were “reasonably underwhelming,” but a revival of UPCR has been raised by some during more recent discussions of collision repair standards.

10 years ago (August 2003)
(From Autobody News): Aftermarket parts manufacturers and CAPA are likely vexed by the newly-released “Crash Parts Certification Study” published by the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR). The report blasts the parts certification process, concluding that “certification has no value to the customer…If there are problems with the certified product, the certifying entity does not stand behind their own certification process.”
Legislation enacted in 2001 authorized $125,000 to be spent by the BAR, a sub-agency of the California Department of Consumer Affairs, to study the best process for certifying crash parts, and to designate the agency to bear responsibility for overseeing crash parts certification. For two-and-a-half years, the BAR held meetings with repairers, insurers, OEMs and aftermarket parts certifiers. It sent out surveys to auto body repair shops and conducted field test on crash parts. In the end, the BAR reached several conclusions, most notably:
● Elimination of non-certified aftermarket crash parts is not a viable option. Outlawing non-certified aftermarket parts (as suggested by CAPA) would make the market less competitive and leave a shortage of such parts.
● Certification does not protect consumers from poor quality parts… If the certifying entity warranted their certified parts it would provide ‘added value’ to the certified part, and protect consumers against poor quality parts.
The study compared the CAPA Quality Seal to the well-known Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. The Good Housekeeping seal carried a limited warranty stating that if any product bearing the seal proves to be defective within two years of the date of purchase, the product will be replaced or the purchase price refunded. “If CAPA or Global Validators feel their certification parts fit the criteria of their certification program, why don’t they stand behind their certified parts?” the BAR report asks.


5 years ago (August 2008)
The Progressive Insurance fraud lawsuit against Greg Coccaro and his New York shop, North State Custom, was dismissed. When Progressive concluded presenting its evidence and testimony, Coccaro’s attorneys moved for a directed verdict (a standard practice in many cases) and Judge Mary Smith granted the motion, dismissing the case, saying Progressive had not presented sufficient credible evidence for the trial to continue.
Coccaro issued a press release saying he was “elated with the Judge’s decision” and “extremely grateful and touched by all of the support and encouragement shown by fellow members of the collision repair industry.”
“We are disappointed by the court’s decision, and we plan to appeal,” spokeswoman Cristy Cote of Progressive Insurance.
► Progressive indeed appealed and the case was retried, only to have a jury find Coccaro not guilty in 2010; Coccaro earlier this year reached an out-of-court settlement with the insurer just days before trial was set to begin in his tortious business interference lawsuit against Progressive (terms of the settlement are subject to a non-disclosure clause).

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