Receiving proper paint material reimbursements from insurance carriers continues to be a challenge to the collision repair industry and Michigan is no different.
Since hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the collision repair industry has never caught up to the increases that were incurred during this time period. Add in the challenges the industry faces when attempting to itemize and properly be reimbursed for the feather, prime and block labor operations necessary for a repaired panel and they absorb even additional costs. We have been battling this for years and the solution is quite simple—shops have to use the tools that are available in the marketplace, that means the paint material calculators and insurance carriers have to be cognizant of real costs!
Compare paint materials to parts pricing: When have you ever known a repair facility to have to wait 12, 18 or 24 months for a parts price increase (PPI), all the time hoping that next month they will get the PPI that was owed? Paint material increases are not any different!
There are paint material calculators such as Micro Mix, Mitchell Refinish Material Calculator and PMCLogic, just to name a few that provide documentation and assessment of paint materials used on each repaired vehicle.
I recently cut my hand with a tablesaw which is a different story, but I had to go to the emergency room and I was charged for the labor and the ‘parts/stitches’—including the cleaning solution. That cleaning solution wasn’t a ‘cost of doing business’ for the hospital! The customer and the insurer have to understand that we must cover the costs of these materials that are specific to the repair of that particular vehicle for that particular loss!
We also cannot ignore the regulations placed upon the automotive repair industry over the past five years, such as the 6H/NESHAP rule which clearly identifies when the refinishing process occurs, but also the updates to the labeling laws from OSHA as they are being updated over the next few years.
Until we see more acceptances of the paint material calculators, we must have acceptance that any repair procedure that requires ‘spraying’ as an applicatory method translates to a refinish process, must be categorized as a refinish operation and the repair facility must be reimbursed for the materials accordingly.
If the consumer or insurance carrier feels that these definitions are improper under the NESHAP/6H rule, they need to work on lobbying Washington, but in the meantime, stop expecting the repair facility to break the law or absorb the extra costs.
These costs, such as feather, prime and block procedures, are NOT part of the repair process, they are the gap between the repair process and the refinish process—and they have a federal regulation that requires it to be a refinish operation.