Wednesday, 26 March 2014 00:06

Retro News: 20 Years in The Collision Repair Industry

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20 years ago in the collision repair industry (April 1994)

Retired Automotive Service Association (ASA) lobbyist Don Randall told the group that current antitrust laws are strangling collision repairers by giving insurers an unfair advantage to meet and set policy language and contract definitions. In essence, he said, insurers have the ability to set market prices while collision repairers do not.

“Our system is control losses, which sounds like a pretty good idea,” Randall said. “But that system is destroying the free enterprise system in this state.”

Insurance policies, he said, are laden with loopholes that give insurers the opportunity to change a $100 deductible into one costing much more.

“In the event of a loss, ‘We will make you whole,’ but who decides what is whole,” Randall said. “You have a variable. If you take the car to the shop of your choice, and it isn’t one they choose, they may say to you, ‘You just pay the difference between the one you picked and the one we picked.’ They may also say, ‘We don’t pay for…’ or “It is not customary…” or ‘It is not usual and ordinary.’ They are now engaging in ‘dancing around the contract.’”

Randall railed against the current direct repair programs, saying they breed corruption and cheating.

“It’s wrong and it ought to be stopped,” he said. “But it will not stop until this industry gets organized.”

–  from coverage of a forum in Portland, OR, sponsored by Fairness in Auto Insurance Regulations (FAIR)

15 years ago in the collision repair industry (April 1999)

Could the computerized estimating systems be improved to improve the ease and accuracy of estimating? Three Collision Industry Conference (CIC) committees continued exploring this issue at the CIC meeting in Denver in April 1999.

Bob Matejzel of the CIC Estimating Committee said his group has identified an initial list of about a dozen procedures that it believes the estimating systems should automatically remind users about. As an example, Matejzel said that if replacement of a lower control arm or other front-end suspension part is entered on an estimate, the system should in some way prompt the estimator to also include an alignment on the estimate.

Matejzel said the industry information providers are focusing much of their efforts this year on Y2K compliance issues. But he said his committee, which includes insurers and shops, will continue to meet with the estimating system providers to discuss these changes throughout the year.

“If you’d been at one of this committee’s meetings, you’d have actually seen a group of repairers and insurers stand up and face the information providers and say with one voice, ‘This is what we want,’” said CIC chairman Dale Delmege of the committee’s meetings earlier this year. “That was a magic moment in this industry.”

Linda Holcomb said the CIC Write It Right Committee’s discussions with the estimating system providers has also focused on the need to make the systems easier to use.

“Our estimators are really spending a lot of time writing estimates, and we’d like to see that done quicker,” she said.

– as reported in Autobody News

10 years ago in the collision repair industry (April 2004)

A videotape of an interview with one vehicle owner about his experience with an auto claim generated some discussion when shown at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) in Nashville TN, largely because of who the vehicle owner is: Joe Maxwell, the lieutenant governor of Missouri.

“The thing I was most amazed by was how quickly I was contacted by [the other driver’s] insurance company, which almost immediately called me and said they already had the check in the mail to pay for my automobile,” Maxwell said. “I asked ‘How did you even know how much damage was done?’ They said, ‘Well, from the report.’ So I was offered a settlement before anybody even viewed the damage to the vehicle.”

Maxwell said that while the insurance company representatives were pleasant and that he never felt harassed, they did refer him to a shop in Columbia, MO, 45 miles away. When he told the insurer the first check they sent would not cover the cost of repairs, they made an appointment to send someone out to look at the vehicle at his office. Maxwell doesn’t know if that happened. The shop received a revised estimate—still insufficient to cover the cost of repairs—but Maxwell said the adjuster never contacted him.

“They claim the guy came and viewed the car, but he never came into the building, never jacked the vehicle up,” Maxwell said. “The car was parallel parked on the street and the damage was on the driver’s door side so the guy would have had to lay down on the street to look under the car, which wouldn’t have been safe. And clearly without opening the door, which was locked, they could not have seen all the damage. So that troubled me some.”

Maxwell said he’s concerned that many people in his situation would have accepted that first check and “in doing so accept settlement on the claim and then discover it wasn’t enough to have a professional, quality job done.”

He said he’s also concerned about insurers steering work or owning shops.

“The idea of having an insurance company that would control where I repaired my car is kind of like having a fox watch the chicken house,” he said. “You may wind up with less chickens.”

– as reported in Autobody News

5 years ago in the collision repair industry (April 2009)

Under a settlement agreement reached last week, LKQ Corp. will be the only company allowed to sell certain non-OEM collision parts for Ford vehicles. The non-OEM parts involved are those designed to replace parts for which Ford owns design patents.

As part of the agreement, LKQ will pay Ford a royalty fee for each part sold, and has agreed not to challenge the validity of Ford’s design patents during the term of the agreement (which extends until October 2011, but may be renewed). Other details of the agreement were not disclosed.

Ford said the settlement “does not endorse the quality or use of non-OEM replacement parts sold by LKQ Corp.”

The agreement ends two legal battles Ford has waged to protect its design patents on collision parts for its F-150 pickup and Mustang. It also is likely to split the non-OEM parts industry which has been working as the “Quality Parts Coalition” to limit automakers’ rights to hold design patents on collision parts.

– As reported in CRASH Network, April, 2009. LKQ currently faces a lawsuit from Chrysler over the sale of parts that the automaker claims violate its design patents. The Quality Parts Coalition continues to back proposed federal legislation that would slash (from 14 years to just 30 months) the time that automakers can use design patents to prevent other companies from producing replacement crash parts.

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