The letter stated:
I hope this email finds you well. There is a growing concern from the collision repair community, that I and the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) board was hoping you might be able to assist us with. You may recall in the early to mid-2000's some property and casualty carriers were reducing estimating database refinish times on repaired panels in their claims settlement practices. This approach would reduce both the labor and material costs on the estimate, with reductions ranging from a few tenths, to more significant times in some instances. During that time period, industry groups like SCRS, and committees within the Collision Industry Conference (CIC), went to great lengths to work with paint manufacturers and others interested parties to demonstrate that the refinish process on a repaired panel necessitated more skill and time to refinish than that of a new and undamaged panel. The arbitrary reduction of the refinish times didn't correlate to the fact that there was no time or material savings, even if the damage resulting in body repair was isolated to one end of the panel. The discussion surrounding partial panel refinish, or refinish of a repaired panel, became a very polarizing industry issue. Subsequent to the discussion, the carriers who were routinely utilizing this method in their claims settlement recognized that it did not accurately reflect the process taking place in the repair, and seemingly backed away from pressuring repair facilities to reduce refinish times on repaired panels.
It has been quite a while since SCRS has fielded regular concerns with this issue; but earlier this year we started to be notified of an increase of such requests from your company with more frequency. Collision repair facilities in a variety of markets have expressed to us that they are receiving far greater pressure from representatives of your company to reduce estimate refinish times on repaired panels. The increase in volume of comments and the growing array of marketplaces reporting the practice has steadily increased to the point where it appears to be a much larger trend. Many of the repairers who have contacted us have indicated that the staff representatives they work with from your company don't necessarily agree with the decision to reduce the time, but have claimed it is a directive from upper management.
Please advise if [insurance carrier] has implemented a corporate policy for your auto damage field staff to reduce refinish on repaired panels, or if this is some sort of misunderstanding that we may be able to assist in clarifying?
Thank you sincerely for your help in addressing this again.
SCRS Executive Director
In 2009, the CAA addressed this issue in California calling on shops to make complaints to the department of insurance on this unreasonable estimate adjustment. This resulted in positive results from the shops at that time. Unfortunately, this practice has been slowly coming back. The California Autobody Association (CAA) in collaboration with SCRS board members and its membership, have worked to bring this emerging trend, along with other violations, to the attention of the California Department of Insurance (CDI).
The CDI is interested in hearing from our industry if there are more examples of insurer abuse of the CA Code of Regulations. Specifically, if you have examples of insurance carriers reducing base coat refinish times (partial panel refinish), or other issues with customers being improperly indemnified for repair costs, the CDI would like to hear from you.
Please provide the CDI with an Autobody Repair Shop Report Form (attached) concerning the partial panel refinish issue or other problems you may be encountering.
Click HERE for the Autobody Repair Shop Report Form.