In a letter to ‘Certain Interested and Affected Parties’ the California DOI has taken a second step to address concerns of collision industry stakeholders. In November the DOI’s legal division hosted a meeting to discuss proposed revised aftermarket part regulations. The results of that discussion are under review by the department (see http://tiny.cc/ydvp6). Now the DOI, under Commissioner Dave Jones, is taking on the issue of Labor Rate Surveys, DRPs, and Steering. Departmental attorney, Teresa R. Campbell has organized a January 25th meeting (10–12:00 noon at the DOI in Sacramento, and has drafted contemplated revisions to the California Code of Regulations, impacting Direct Repair Programs and Labor Rate Surveys. Steering is also addressed in language concerning insurer recommendations of automobile repair dealers. Although welcoming input and discusssion, the ‘rulemaking file’ will not be opened until formal notice is given by DOI and that comments must be submitted during the formal public comment period.
The language (complete text follows) proposes that insurers shall report the results of any labor rate survey within 30 days to the department which will in turn make the results available. The survey information will include names and addresses of the auto body shops and the total number of shops surveyed. The 16 current unfair claims settlement practices detailed in Section 790.03(h) of the California Insurance Code will be prohibited, including ‘failing to the attempt in good faith to effectuate prompt, fair, and equitable settlements of claims’.
Following are selected quotes from the proposed language:
For drivers in California, the risk of an auto accident is higher than many other parts of the country because California has more licensed drivers than any other state—more than 22 million drivers on the road. It’s no wonder then that there are close to 6,000 active shops in California, and more that do some custom or occasional repair work. While some also say California is also the hardest place to run a profitable shop due to legislative and othe factors, CARSTAR is looking for franchise opportunities in the golden state.
Last fall CARSTAR announced a new business development team, appointing Mark Behrens, Director of Network Development for California, and saying he would focus on expansion of the CARSTAR brand into California and adding new franchise partners to existing CARSTAR markets.
Now CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Experts has announced an agressive expansion effort in California to offer select body shop owners an opportunity to join North America’s largest MSO network with over 400 stores in the United States and Canada. As a member of CARSTAR, the company says franchisees can offer an array of services and products for collision repair, including the latest in repair technology, rental vehicles, nationwide warranties on repairs and turnkey service for their customers.
“There is a tremendous opportunity for body shop owners in the California marketplace, as the heavy traffic and enormous number of drivers create a constant need for quality collision repair,” said David Byers, CEO of CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Experts. “But it’s a competitive environment where store owners must meet strict environmental standards, manage insurance relationships and deliver high KPIs, drive sales and margin improvement on tight budgets and continually provide excellent auto body repairs. These store owners are looking for the business services and resources that only CARSTAR can provide, and we’re looking forward to adding a select group of these shop owners to the CARSTAR Nation.”
CARSTAR says that California shop owners who become CARSTAR franchisees will benefit from the CARSTAR Management Systems, which provide resources to improve key business metrics such as cycle time, participation in CARSTAR’s 17 corporately managed DRP programs and improved purchasing power from 44 corporately managed purchasing programs.
California shop owners who become CARSTAR franchisees will benefit from the CARSTAR Management Systems, which provide resources to improve key business metrics such as cycle time, participation in CARSTAR’s 17 corporately managed DRP programs, and improved purchasing power from 44 corporately managed purchasing programs.
California shop owners interested in learning more about opportunities with CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Experts can contact Keith McCrone, CARSTAR Director of Network Development–California, at (858) 859-1511.
Interested shops can also visit www.carstar.com for more information.
Last month we reported that John Borek, General Manager of Autocraft Bodywerks in Austin, Texas, has filed a complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance against American National Property and Casualty Company (ANPAC) and a claims services company, American Claims Services, alleging that they “knowingly used a fraudulent document to justify their short-pay” of a claim.
In filing his complaint with the Texas DOI Property and Casualty Complaint Department, Borek wrote: “We believe that based on this document, ANPAC/ American Claim Service is knowingly using a fraudulent document to justify their short pay to limit the price paid for repairs to [the] automobile. By not performing these necessary operations, it will result in an incomplete repair. I have spoken today with the field appraiser assigned to this file and he confirmed that he put the needed repair operations on the original estimate although a document generated from ANPAC/American Claim Service shows a zero by all these operations.
In a letter of response to the Texas Department of Insurance, ANPAC said an appraiser working on its behalf used “an outdated document” when denying a supplement for color sand and buff from Autocraft Bodywerks in Austin, Texas, and that the supplement has now been paid. John Borek of Autocraft filed a complaint with the regulator last month after receiving a document that the American Claims Services appraiser indicated was from Audatex showing that color sand and buff is included in refinish times.
In his complaint, Borek called the document “fraudulent” given that Audatex, after searching its “Database Reference Manuals” back to 1993, concluded that the document is “most certainly not from ADP/Audatex.”
After a call asking for an update or comment on the complaint, the Department of Insurance sent Borek a copy of ANPAC’s December 27 initial response letter, saying it will notify him “once we receive additional information that was requested.”
Recently, three of the country’s top independent auto body repair centers around the country have joined the CARSTAR Nation to provide their customers and community members even better service and support.
CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Experts are North America’s largest group of auto body repair experts with some 400 stores in the United States and Canada—and growing. As a member of CARSTAR, these new franchisees will offer a new array of services and products for collision repair, including the latest in repair technology, rental vehicles, national warranties on repairs, and turnkey service for their customers.
As part of CARSTAR’s commitment to customer service, CARSTAR can take care of the entire process of repairing the vehicle for the vehicle owner, from getting the vehicle towed to the facility to coordinating with the insurance company to restoring it to pre-accident condition.
The new CARSTAR franchisees will benefit from the CARSTAR Management Systems, which provide resources to improve key business metrics such as cycle time, participation in CARSTAR’s 17 corporately managed DRP programs, and improved purchasing power from 44 corporately managed purchasing programs.
The three newest stores in the CARSTAR Nation include:
● CARSTAR Collision King, Houston, Texas. Owned by Allen Suleiman, CARSTAR Collision King has been serving the Houston market for more than a decade.
● Auto Masters CARSTAR Collision, San Antonio, Texas
● Auto Masters CARSTAR Collision, Victoria, Texas. Owned by Daniel Baker, Auto Masters CARSTAR Collision is a multi shop owner that has been serving the San Antonio region for 36 years.
“We are extremely pleased to welcome these new members to the CARSTAR Nation and expand our presence in the Houston and San Antonio markets,” said David Byers, Chief Executive Officer of CARSTAR. “They all run great businesses and have strong histories of quality customer service. We’re looking forward to building their business together, helping local car owners get back on the road with fast, reliable collision repairs, and giving back to the community at the same time.”
The Texas Independent Automotive Association (TIAA) held their monthly members meeting on January 19 at the Barn Door, 8400 N. New Braunfels Ave. in San Antonio, TX.
The meeting was held at 6:30 p.m., starting with a networking period. Speaker Tom Hansis from the UTSA Small Business Development Center was this month’s speaker and he talked to the 50 or so attendees about how shops can benefit from mentoring services that UTSA offers to shops.
UTSA offers online training, workshops and business advising for San Antonio-based small businesses. For more information about the UTSA Small Business Development Center, please visit sasbdc.org.
The TIAA will hold their next meeting on February 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the County Line on I-10. The speaker will be from the State Comptrollers office.
For more information about this meeting and other upcoming events for the association please visit www.tiaa.net.
In keeping true to their motto, “Driving the Future for Women in Collision Repair,” the WIN Nominating Committee is now accepting applications for seats on the WIN Board.
The Board consists of various industry segments including but not limited to: shop owners, jobbers, suppliers, consultants, paint companies and insurance companies. Aside from the WIN annual Conference in May volunteer WIN Board members work together to foster an environment that encourages the education, recruitment, retention and networking of women in the collision repair industry.
“Within a short time, the Women’s Industry Network has grown in size, produced informative and motivational events, and become a recognized industry association through volunteer efforts, industry sponsorships and the enthusiasm of the WIN membership. WIN is all volunteer. Volunteering for the WIN Board is an outstanding opportunity to have a present and future influence on our industry. If you are motivated to “drive the future for women in collision repair, apply for the WIN Board.” said Denise Caspersen, of ASA, chair of the WIN Nominating Committee.
The deadline for applications is February 24, 2012. For application requirements and further details go
WIN is also offering scholarships to female collision industry students, instructors and shop employees to attend its 2012 conference May 6-8 in Atlanta.
Scholarship applications must be submitted through mail by March 9. Visit womensindustrynetwork.com for additional details on scholarship requirements and the application mailing process.
Upon State Farm’s October 10th, 2011 written denial to provide consideration for a plethora of recommended and necessary repair procedures and materials, Ray Gunder owner of the 44 year old Gunder’s Auto Center instructed his legal counsel, Attorney Brent Geohagan, to prepare the necessary steps to file a lawsuit against the nationwide insurer at the request of and authorization by his customer.
The lawsuit was prepared and filed on October 25th along with a Civil Remedy Notice (CRN) which was accepted by the courts on December 16th, 2011. State Farm’s legal counsel responded in a letter to Gunder’s Attorney dated January 19th, 2012 stating, in part, “at all times State Farm acted in good faith and fairly and honestly toward its insured, with due regard for its insured’s interest.”
Furthermore the correspondence states, in part, “State Farm has decided to exercise its rights under Florida law to avoid unnecessary litigation. Accordingly, enclosed is a check made payable to you and Raymond Gunder in the amount of $1090.70—which is the amount demanded in the CRN, plus statutory interest. This amount is paid to ensure that any alleged violations are cured in accordance with the statute of Florida law and to preclude unnecessary litigation. Again, State Farm’s payment should not be construed as an admission of any wrongdoing or liability on the part of State Farm who denies any liability, as well as the standing of Mr. Gunder to pursue any claims, but exercise of its right under Florida law to avoid protracted, vexatious litigation.”
On receiving the news from his attorney, Ray Gunder said, “I am elated that State Farm has chosen to step up and pay what was due our customer and that State Farm elected to settle rather than proceed with a long drawn-out and costly litigation. The word “vexation” means harassing; and/or annoying as if the settlement was settled merely as a nuisance claim. I’ve never once found where an insurer has ever overpaid a claim and they didn’t in this matter either. They knew what they owed and why and that they would lose if it went in front of jury. They also knew, they would surely incur additional and significant legal costs and interest just as they have in the past. I don’t care what they say their motivation was as long as they pay us so we can pay our team-members for every drop of sweat they drop in the repair of our customer’s vehicles.”
“It will be interesting to see how the other three active lawsuits we have filed against State Farm on behalf of our customers turn out,” continued Gunder. “There are an additional 25 more in line behind those which are ripe to be filed for similar issues. We’ll just keep pounding that rock!”
Eddie Quintela, the shop owner from Delray Beach, FL, who wanted to know why GEICO was charging his customers a 10% deductible on their domestic OEM parts and other labor operations, regardless of fault, and in addition to regular deductible and/or applicable betterments, has been vindicated. Quintela was finally able to get GEICO to remove the deductible off one of his customer’s estimates.
Quintela, who owns Collision Concepts Inc., asked why GEICO was apparently assessing this fee in Palm Beach county but not in nearby Polk county; and why an insured driving a foreign made vehicle was not deducted 10% for OEM parts, but one driving a vehicle made in the United States was made to pay 10% extra for their parts. Other labor operations were defined as wet sand and buff and all clips and bolts. GEICO claimed it was customary in his market, while Quintela disagreed with proof from surveying other shops in the area. Collision Concepts is not a DRP for the insurer.
“Just want to say thank you to Geico for paying what is fair and reasonable to repair our mutual customer’s vehicle,” said Quintela, “It is a good start to what I hope is a new and improved relationship between Geico and all collision repair facilities.”
To view the full text of the email exchanges between Quintela and GEICO please see Autobody News January 2012 Edition or www.autobodynews.com, search ‘Quintela’.
ABRA Auto Body & Glass is forging ahead with its growth plans by announcing the opening of a full service collision center in Warner Robins, Georgia.
The newest state-of-the-art facility is located at 581 Carl Vinson Parkway in Warner Robins which is 90 miles southeast of Atlanta. The opening increases the total number of ABRA repair centers to 115 in 12 states.
Tim Adelmann, ABRA’s Executive Vice President of Business Development said, “This is an exciting time at ABRA. Our long-term growth plans are taking shape and we’re looking forward to serving the Warner Robins community. We built this repair center to make it convenient for vehicle owners and insurance partners to find a cutting-edge repair center in their neighborhood.”
The repair center is equipped with all the latest industry technology to maintain high standards and assure top quality repairs. Staff technicians have extensive experience and receive rigorous ongoing industry training.
Duane Rouse, ABRA’s Chief Executive Officer said, “Our increased presence in the Georgia market is part of the strategy to accelerate our national growth in 2012.”
Mike Causey, a sometime Autobody News columnist, announced his candidacy for North Carolina’s Commissioner of Insurance position in Greensboro in early January. Causey chose Dare County to launch his campaign he said, “…to bring focus on the problem of insurance in the coastal counties. Premiums for household insurance, especially windstorm insurance, have skyrocketed in recent years in eastern North Carolina, worse yet in the coastal counties.”
Causey said he was urged by North Carolina Republican leaders to seek the office this year because of widespread and bipartisan criticism of how the State Office of Insurance has been administered.
Causey is also known as a consumer advocate and lobbyist for the Independent Auto Body Association (IABA) as well as healthcare groups and Organic farming and Healthy Eating advocacy.
This will be Causey’s fourth attempt at the position, after losing in the general election in 1992, 1996 and 2000 to Democratic incumbent Jim Long.
Causey, a Greensboro native, will run under the Republican ticket. He currently serves as commissioner on the North Carolina Public Officers and Employees Liability Insurance Commission and is a member of the Guilford County Agricultural Advisory Board. Current Democratic Commissioner Wayne Goodwin is also seeking re-election.
In an interview in the Beaufort Observer, the interviewer expressed a “high level of frustration of residents of Beaufort County with the insurance business in our county. Many residents in Beaufort County experienced severe problems with insurance companies following Hurricane Irene and even more have experienced difficulty in obtaining satisfactory coverage at a reasonable price. We asked him what he proposed to do about those problems if elected.”
“One of the main reasons I’m running is that I want to help people who are having problems with insurance companies,” said Causey. “That would be one of my top priorities in building a “customer-oriented” Insurance Department. As for the problem of difficulty in getting reasonable coverage, particularly comprehensive homeowners’ and mobile homeowners’ policies, I would work with the Legislature to address that problem. One of the specific things I would want to look at is the idea of making every policy equally available across the state. That would broaden the risk pool and I think that is something we need to take a hard look at.” He added: “we need a more competitive insurance industry in North Carolina and that is another thing I would want to work on.”
Mike Causey is not to be confused with another Mike Causey, who is a senior correspondent for Federal News Radio. He covers federal employee pay and benefits issues and writes a daily column about these topics.
You can read our Mike Causey’s columns at autobodynews.com/columnists/causey-mike.html.