“I’m sure many like myself have often heard a claims person say: ‘When XYZ starts paying more is the day we will begin to pay more,’” Gunder said. “This creates a further problem of validating the so-called ‘prevailing competitive price.’ The fact is, a repairer could offer a lower price to a larger, higher volume insurer who sends them work on a regular basis while the repairer could assess a higher charge (or no discount) to a carrier they only serve occasionally and who steers away from their shop on a regular basis.”
By merely participating in the survey, Gunder said, a shop is lending validity and credibility to it.
“If so few shops participated, “the lumping of all repairers into one single group would cease. Repairers would compete on their reputations for quality, length of service in the community, savvy marketing and salesmanship at the point of sale - just as insurers do.”
Many in the industry believe there is “overcapacity,” too many shops chasing too little work, Gunder said, and that thousands of shops could close in the coming decade.
“Because the insurers’ concerted efforts to capture the collision industry have been thus far successful, if something isn’t done to preserve the independent repairers and their ability to determine their own pricing, it will become, ‘You either get in the program...or get out of the industry,’” Gunder said. “As I see it, the individual shop owner has a choice to either remain a ‘independent repairer’ or allow themselves to become merely subservient to the insurance industry.”
Gunder said as the industry meets in Las Vegas that he hopes others will follow his lead when he says, “I’ve made my choice.”