The focal guest speaker of the evening was Sgt. Rueben Auter, LA Region Supervisor of Towing & Recovery, who informed attendees that, though a storage license is not needed to charge for storage in LA, shops still must follow the same procedures as those with a license, including sending out an official report of stored vehicle (ORSV), a first notice and a final notice. He also shared a Hold Harmless Agreement which must be completed if a lien holder chooses to take possession of a vehicle, according to LRS 32:1720.1. Sgt. Auter plans to meet with insurers to notify them of this recent discovery that allows shops to charge for storage without said license.
Sgt. Auter also explained the fees under this law allow shops without storage licenses to charge $19 for outside storage, $23.50 for indoor or covered storage, and $38 for oversized vehicles, in addition to a $45 gate fee and a filing fee of $8 as an administrative fee; shops licensed for storage can charge administrative fees of $25 in state or $30 out of state. He added that if a customer signs a repair authorization stating the shop's storage fees, this overrides the aforementioned procedures, though it will make it more difficult to take possession of the vehicle if it is abandoned and, as usual, it doesn't guarantee the insurance company will pay.
Hanks concluded, "Shops should be getting a repair authorization prior to any repair in writing either in person or by fax. No phone authorizations because no one is obligated to pay a repair bill if a repair authorization isn't signed beforehand."
Chris Robertson of Technical Environmental Services and his brother, a member of LaCIA, spoke next to inform attendees that OSHA is doing shop inspections in the area. OSHA just completed an inspection at their father's shop, and they shared some tips which Hanks recounts:
"Invite them in when they show up. If you turn them away and force them to get a warrant, it may make the process more stressful for everyone. Only answer the questions they ask. Utilize your paint vendors for help in keeping your shop up to date on OSHA regulations." Hanks said Robertson was very helpful and distributed some informational packets on the subject which is useful since OSHA plans to inspect approximately 40% of shops in their area.
Lastly, Mr. Daniel Rusich, Instructor for Delgado Community College's collision repair program, spoke to association members. Rusich was recently hired to help turn the program around and has reached out to LaCIA for input and help. The school hopes to modernize their current curriculum and has extended an invitation for shops to visit for a tour or to offer advice on what students should learn to make them more valuable when they graduate. Shops interested in hiring students for work-study or to recruit recent graduates can contact Rusich at 504-671-6139 or email@example.com.
The school's program is also in need of donations, both monetary and equipment such as tools, parts and materials.
Hanks said, "Remember, these students are part of the future of our industry! The LaCIA will help in any way possible, and I hope you will do the same."
In other news, LaCIA is looking forward to the Southern Automotive Repair Conference in Biloxi on April 17-18.
Also, Hanks is coordinating a fundraiser for LA Attorney General Buddy Caldwell which is planned for May.
The association's next class is scheduled for early July and "will be a hands-on class where we bring in some experts and parts and really get into procedures and what we may be missing," Hanks said.