In a move that many repairers found a welcome surprise, including the owner of Big Sky Collision Center, Matthew McDonnell, Chubb sent the following email to body shops in December:
“Chubb has decided that we are going to allow for pre and post scans on all 'modern' autos (1990 and Newer). Your first line on the estimate should read pre-scan at 1.0 hour of body rate and the last line on the estimate should read post-scan at 1.0 hours of body rate. If you find that the cost of doing the scan is going to be higher, then provide the actual scan report and the invoice and we will reimburse accordingly on the SUPPLEMENT.
Chubb takes this very seriously and wants to make sure the vehicle is returned in proper working order.”
Shortly after in January, Chubb sent a follow up email to clarify their announcement:
“The email you received on December 9 regarding a policy announcement on pre and post scans was sent prematurely and we wish to clarify it. Chubb has consistently focused on the safety and integrity of covered vehicle repairs, consistent with manufacturer requirements. Our approach to pre- and/or post-repair scanning is no different. Many manufacturers have issued position statements relating to the need for pre- and post-repair scanning. Many have not yet done so. Chubb’s approach is to view each repair as unique, and to consider payment for covered repairs on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with policy terms and the need for a high quality repair.”
“This is the insurance company as far as I can see with the most integrity,” said McDonnell. “They looked at it and said, ‘Hey, this needs to be done. We want our shops to do it and we are requiring our shops to do it.'”
About two years ago, McDonnell began pre and post scanning every single vehicle that came through his Billings, Montana body shops. His father, Matt, started the business in a four-car garage in 1978. Since then, it has grown to include 30 employees at their three locations.
In the past, McDonnell said the shops were only scanning some of the vehicles that came in for repair. Over time, he realized it need to be done differently. After working with Mike Anderson for several years and being part of his business council, McDonnell asked Anderson which vehicles should be scanned. “Mike said, ‘Matthew, I think you need to scan them all.’ I thought that was impossible,” said McDonnell. “Who is going to pay?”
He went back to his shop and asked his team to help determine which cars needed to be scanned. Over a one-month period, they tested 50 vehicles and scanned every one without asking to get reimbursed by the insurance companies.
After scanning all of the vehicles pre- and post-repair, they found that 49 out of 50 had diagnostic trouble codes that were either created from the accident or from the repair process. “We wouldn’t have known which were related to the accident and which were related to the repair unless we ran a pre and post scan,” said McDonnell.
“If I put the vehicle back together and it’s invisible to me to see those little prongs inside the connectors, I can’t tell if they are all touching and connecting,” he said. “How do I know if they are all connected after the repair? The answer is I don’t. You absolutely have to scan the vehicle to find out that information.”
After that test, the shop recognized the importance of scanning every vehicle they have coverage for. “What people think needs to be done and what really needs to be done is probably the biggest issue in the country today,” he said.
He continued to monitor the vehicles that came into the shop and kept a list of approximately 200. He found only 14 percent of these had dash lights come on and only half of the dash lights were related to the repair. The other half had maintenance issues such as needing an oil change or in regards to the tire pressure monitoring system.
“All of them needed to be scanned,” said McDonnell. “All of them had codes and faults. For those people out there who are only going to scan when there is a dash light, that means you are only getting a seven percent success rate according to my data. That’s super scary.”
He said the toughest part is not figuring out whether you need to scan. Instead, the real work begins after you make the decision.
At one time, Big Sky had 12 DRPs. He only has one major one day—State Farm. “We had every single insurance company that we dealt with deny it for some reason up front,” he said. “They didn’t believe it needed to be done on every vehicle and didn’t agree with our practices so they didn’t want a partner like me.”
However, Chubb saw how he was operating his shop and asked him to be a DRP in Montana. “That was a major compliment,” said McDonnell.
Over the last two years, he has found that OEMs are surprised to hear that not all vehicles are being scanned, especially since they regularly scan the vehicles that come into the dealerships.
McDonnell said that over half of the cars driving on the road today have a position statement that requires pre and post scanning of the vehicle. “That’s 51 percent of the marketshare of the cars driving in the United States right now,” he said. Although many shops have not seen these position statements, McDonnell said the majority know about it by now. “Now you need to make the business decision about whether or not you are going to follow the rules.”
In the meantime, McDonnell continues to spread the word about the importance of scanning all vehicles. “We’ve stuck with it long enough that now over 90 percent of the insurance companies we work with have said, ‘Yes, we will pay you for the pre and post scan.
“My message to the industry is that if you are waiting for the insurance companies to tell you that you have to do this, it’s never going to come. That’s something that everyone has to answer internally,” said McDonnell. “If you are going to consider yourself a shop with integrity and doing things right, then you have to ask that question. At least research it enough to know to make the right decision. I challenge every shop owner to say, ‘Let’s do that.’”