A: I was surprised to find that a number of insurance commissioners with whom I spoke to directly were interested [in learning about issues impacting the collision repair industry]. I expected less interest and concern, but they were actually quite receptive. The insurance commissioner from California was interested in discussing the impact current insurance industry practices have on small businesses. A New York regulator asked for more information about the potential of insurers promoting bad repairs as a result of their active interference in the repair process.
North Carolina’s Mike Causey was likely the most knowledgeable insurance commissioner I spoke with because he has a real-world understanding of what collision repairers go through. Jim Beck from Georgia is interested in helping consumers and the collision repair industry, as well.
Q: How did your first NAIC meeting go?
A: During the NAIC’s April consumer meeting, I was afforded the opportunity to deliver a presentation to the entire group which focused on outlining the [collision industry’s] problem with insurer interference. I provided an overview of the Seebachan and John Eagle lawsuit and I talked about how insurers’ refusal to pay for scans is a problem for everyone—these are important tests to identify the repairs needed and then confirm that the issue has been resolved.
I explained that this is just one small way in which insurance companies interfere and withhold payment – they don’t adequately pay for all repairs and diagnostic procedures to ensure consumers’ vehicles are properly and safety repaired. [Some of the regulators I spoke to] were horrified by what I shared in my presentation. While my goal wasn’t to frighten them, this is a frightening situation and they need to be aware of it to reduce the likelihood of similar tragedies, like the Seebachans’, from occurring in the future.
Q: How can collision repair professionals help educate and engage the insurance commissioners in their states?
A: Shops can appeal to their regulators to seek meetings. Talking to them does help because it helps the insurance commissioners become more knowledgeable and receptive to repairers’ concerns.