John Morgan Hughes, Lobbyist and Executive Director for the Mississippi Collision Repair Association (MSCRA), has been heavily involved in this series of meetings which include the association, body shops, insurance companies, OEM manufacturers, and attorneys, in addition to Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney and Attorney General Jim Hood.
Hughes believes the outcome of these meetings will be a positive change for the industry. Although he can’t discuss the details of the meetings, he stated, “The meetings are interesting and well-attended on both sides. A lot of good ideas are being brought forward. While there has been some distrust between these groups historically, I feel that something positive will come from these conversations. I appreciate the foresight and open-mindedness of our Insurance Commissioner and Attorney General for hosting these talks, and I’m really looking forward to the end product.”
The final product will be a public information document created with input from both the insurance and collision repair industries that can be given to consumers to guide them in what to do after a collision. MSCRA intends to work with members to distribute this consumer awareness information once both sides are happy with the document.
After the fourth meeting is held in April, Hughes believes the group will have a pretty good idea of the final draft. More importantly, he observed, “This is the first time all of these people have been in a room together, and it shows that we can come together at the same table and share our viewpoints. It’s important for the insurance and collision repair industries to come together for our mutual benefit.”
Hughes also noted that shop education and training plays a large role in the adversarial relationship between shops and insurers. “As long as the guy with no credentials receives the same hourly rate as shops that invest in training and equipment, we are going to see a conflict. Not all shops are created equal.”
Consumer awareness is an important topic for MSCRA in 2017. The association is working on public service announcements to help consumers understand what is a safe and proper repair and to educate on the things they should know before choosing a shop to repair their vehicle.
MSCRA eagerly anticipates that 2017 Southern Automotive Repair Conference to be held in Biloxi in April. Last year, 200 shops attended, and this year’s goal is to attract 300 shops. Hughes is particularly excited about Mike Anderson’s presentation.
The current MS legislative session is nearly at a close, and during this session, the association was able to defeat a strong piece of legislation that is membership felt would not be good for the public as it created “a pathway to clearing titles for destruction.” If passed, HB2229 would have allowed for the authorization of a vehicle without a certificate of destruction for water damage that has been declared a total loss to be issued a branded title of the vehicle has been restored to its operating condition.