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Friday, 10 August 2012 16:56

Insurers Pay Increased Labor Rate to Gunder’s Auto Center

Ray Gunder, founder of Gunder’s Auto Center, Inc., which has served Lakeland, FL and its surrounding communities for over 44 years, determined the current labor rates which were being offered by insurers were insufficient to sustain profitability and continued growth.

Upon determining the true cost of operations, in June, 2012, the decision was made by insurers to increase the standard door labor rate from their previously posted rate of $42.00 to $48.00 per labor hour, a12.5% increase.

Ray Gunder stated, “It had been almost six years since rates had moved, driving our net profit into a danger zone. Our business and our techs struggling financially left me with no options. Every insurance employee I talked with certainly hadn’t missed their cost of living raises. If repairers sit around and wait for a hand-out - that’ll be what they will likely get - a hand-out. I felt that for my company and its team members to keep up with the rising costs of living and for us to keep abreast of ever-increasing operational costs, raising our labor rates was necessary. We needed to take actions and we did."

Once determined, Gunder’s new rates were posted in their reception area and each claims person and appraiser who Gunder’s dealt with were informed of the new rates.
This increase, which Ray Gunder considered minimum, was considered by many insurers to be substantial and was met with anticipated resistance, however, most know of Ray’s lack of hesitation to “pull the trigger" and to act on behalf of his customers in asserting their rights for “fair and acceptable” compensation for “reasonable and necessary” repair costs.

Many insurance companies made their concerns and objections known but elected to pay the rate. Those insurers include:
1. MetLife
2. Kemper Services
3. Westfield Comp.
4. Auto Owners
5. Acceptance Casualty
6. Liberty Mutual
7. Amica Mutual
8. Horace Mann
9. The Hartford
10. Direct General

And others, not so agreeable, include:
3. State Farm
4. Allstate
5. Infinity
6. Travelers

Thus far, the above insurers have yet to pay Gunder’s customers' labor rate willingly. As such, Gunder’s has had to take the appropriate action to enable their customers to receive their entitlements necessary to allow them to get a thorough and quality repair and has proceeded to file lawsuits on behalf of their customers via an Assignment of Proceeds and/or Power of Attorney to resolve the rate dispute issue.

Ray stated, “To date, two of these insurers have asked our attorney what his charges are to date, perhaps with the thought of conceding, paying our rates, and avoiding protracted litigation. With regard to the others, we have filed for discovery and scheduled depositions with their claims people and I am anxious to see what we find as it will no doubt lead to other issues to be used in future actions - if and when they should be required.”

Ray continued, “I am sure all insurers are concerned with having to pay other shops in the area if they pay Gunder’s, but I have to say that I am stunned at how far we have come in getting fair and reasonable compensation for things like PMC-Logic material invoicing, mark-up on sublet, parts return fees and many other reasonable and necessary charges and have consistently heard that other local repairers don’t request such compensation, even though they know Gunder’s is getting paid for them. I’ve had appraisers tell me…'Ray, I’d pay it if asked…but very few even ask!'

“As for me, I’m not looking to fix the world, I just want to fix my customer’s cars properly, pay my techs fairly for their efforts and provide for my family,” Gunder said.


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