SOUTHEAST NEWS (282)
Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi
Autobody News' SouthEast print edition is mailed to 6,500 body shops monthly
As addressed in prior press releases and communications to repairers nationwide, Ray Gunder of Gunder’s Auto Center has been pressing insurers to provide full compensation to his customers for processes and materials necessary to properly and thoroughly repair his customer’s vehicles. As a result, his customers have received full compensation each and every time, but still, at times, the nation’s largest insurer continues to deny consideration for the very same things that they have paid for in the past
Ray Gunder stated: “I’ve heard that one definition of ‘insanity’ is “To do the same thing repeatedly while anticipating a different result and I guess I must be a bit crazy because I have found that State Farm will deny one customer for the very same procedures of which they have agreed to provide to another only a week earlier!?
Gov. Rick Scott signed off on a bill reforming Florida’s auto insurance system Friday, finalizing a contentious debate around the now-approved law that overhauls how the state compensates providers and policyholders for crash-related injuries.
Legislators passed the reform bill in early March by an 80-34 vote in the state House and a 22-17 vote in the state Senate. That compromise bill followed battles in both state chambers over how to improve the state’s personal injury protection (PIP) coverage system that reimburses policyholders for post-crash medical expenses regardless of who was at fault for the collision.
The law’s proponents say it will save taxpayers money because it will reduce the rate of insurance-related crime, and insurers will, in theory, pass savings from reform onto drivers who search for Florida car insurance with lower premiums.
Opponents say that the reform measure severely undercuts the value of PIP coverage by restricting the amount that can go to treating nonemergency medical conditions to a total of $2,500, barring massage therapists and acupuncturists from receiving PIP payments and covering only treatments that start within the first 14 days of a crash.
The governor signed the bill into law at an event in Jacksonville, Fla., saying “I am glad to do my part in keeping the cost of living low in Florida.”
The governor’s office cited statistics from state regulators showing that the number of crashes in the state declined as the amount of PIP payments increased 66 percent in 2006-10.
“These claims have caused auto insurance premiums to burden Florida families,” the governor’s office stated in a release coinciding with the signing ceremony.
New Conditions for PIP Medical Treatment
The new law institutes reforms that tighten restrictions on the kind of medical treatment a person receives under PIP coverage.
Previously, PIP covered up to 80 percent of medical expenses, up to 60 percent of lost income and up to a $5,000 death benefit, up to the policy limits. Reform supporters said this setup was too wide, leading to a rising number of phony claims and, ultimately, higher insurance premiums for everyone in the state.
Medical care providers previously covered by the state’s no-fault coverage included acupuncturists, massage therapists and other nonemergency medical professionals.
The law now eliminates services like massage therapy and acupuncture from benefits eligibility, requiring specific accreditations of facilities, hospitals and physician-owned clinics where policyholders can receive PIP-covered medical treatment. The law also requires policyholders to receive their initial treatment within the first 14 days after a crash if it is to be covered.
More than 60 people attended the Collision Industry's Legal Seminar held recently in Lakeland, Florida. Attendees came from Oregon, Minnesota, New York and many other states to hear information shared by Ray Gunder, Bret Geohagan (legal counsel for Gunder’s Auto Center, Inc.) and Barrett Smith of Auto Damage Experts, Inc.
Less than a year after the Maaco Collision Repair and Auto Painting Center in Cape Coral closed its doors, another has opened.
Collision Center Company's new franchisee, Jonathan Washer, opened a new repair shop in Cape Coral in late May. Contractors gutted and updated the new body shop’s building at 1221 SE 9th Terrace in preparation for opening day, and painters, sanders, detailers and other positions were hired. It’s just a few blocks away from the old location.
Beginning May 7, Wiregrass Georgia Technical College will be the host site for I-CAR training classes for collision shop technicians, owners, and managers as well as insurance adjusters. I-CAR is the educational body of the collision industry. Formed in 1978 by the collision industry, I-CAR, the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair, is an international nonprofit training organization. Their focus revolves around helping the industry achieve a high level of technical training.
I-CAR training is structured around the individual’s role as a collision industry professional. There are seven different classifications for training; Estimator, Steel Structural Technician, Aluminum Structural Technician, Non-Structural Technician, Electrical/Mechanical Technician, Refinish Technician and Auto Physical Damage Appraiser. Each classification contains several training classes that range from two days to minimum of four hours. A technician must have ten classes to reach Platinum and must take two classes per year to maintain the Platinum status. Wiregrass Technical College is in the I-Car Alliance which enables students to achieve Platinum status before graduating at a very low cost.
For a registration form and list of classes being offered, click here.
UPCOMING LAKELAND, FL, ALLIANCE MEETING
• DATE: Tuesday May 8th
• PLACE: Bartow Ford
2800 US Hwy 98
• Time: 6:30 PM
• Dinner: 6:30-7:00
• Meeting starts promptly at 7:00
RSVP: David Stewart (863)287-8078
Cherri Surrency (863) 838-7791
The Florida Autobody Collision Alliance (FACA) will soon be launching a labor rate survey in the state of Florida. Florida collision repair facilities will soon be invited to participate.
According to FACA, the purpose of this survey is to provide Florida collision shop owners with prevailing rates for labor and material so they can be paid fairly for the work they perform.
"Your response is needed to ensure all Florida collision businesses are represented," stated FACA.
The survey will be conducted by a neutral third-party, CSi Complete, a provider of customer satisfaction indexing to the collision repair industry.
Paul Hawks, owner of Bernie’s Body Shop in Lakeland, Fla., is using a limited power of attorney signed by his customer and has filed a breach of contract suit against Progressive Insurance Co. on behalf of his customer, a Progressive policyholder who asked that his name be withheld.
In 2011, the collision industry provided $4.1 million in support to secondary and post-secondary collision students and their school programs through the Collision Repair Education Foundation. This year’s tournament occurred on April 25th at the Highlands Course in Lake Arrowhead. Through monetary and in-kind product donations, the 2011 Collision Repair Education Foundation donors helped to provide student scholarships, student tool grants, school equipment and supply grants, the 3rd annual Ultimate Collision Education Makeover school grant, and much more. Since 2008, when the Collision Repair Education Foundation became a purely philanthropic organization, the organization has provided $7 million in school and student support through industry donors. The Atlanta Golf Tournament supports secondary and post-secondary collision students in the greater Atlanta area. We encourage you to learn more about this important fundraising event and participate and/or sponsor in future. By doing so, you are directly supporting and benefiting our industry in Atlanta and Georgia.
Gunder’s Auto Center of Lakeland, Fla., has received settlement payments from State Farm, 21st Century and Security National for processes and materials Gunder’s says they previously refused to pay.
On behalf of and at the request of his customers, owner Ray Gunder filed legal complaints against 21st Century and Security National. Last week, Gunder’s received notice that both had agreed to pay charges for previously denied items including paint and materials, parts return fees, and miscellaneous processes and procedures necessary to perform proper repairs. They also agreed to pay all legal costs and attorney’s fees, which amounted to $3,314 and $1,690 , respectively.
This year, at the Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach auction, one special unit was sold not once, but twice. A very special-edition 2011 Ford Shelby GT500 was sold twice in a row Saturday at the Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach auction, raising $950,000 for the Wounded Warriors Family Support foundation.
The red, white and blue Shelby, signed by dozens of veterans, families and supporters from all over the country, was hammered sold for $500,000 to a thunderous cheer from the auction crowd, which rose to a fevered pitch when the winner of the sale, Ronnie Rains of Odessa, Texas, donated the car back to be sold again.