Friday, 30 November 2007 09:00

Insurers should not set standards when they assume no liability

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.

Today’s “industry standard” is rapidly becoming the industry substandard. This new substandard is becoming the norm and the so-called “measuring stick” that all other repairs are judged by.


So what happens when the above standard repair is required? Will the insurer be forced to total the vehicle or will the quality repair be revived only when needed. Either the vehicle is repaired correctly or it isn’t.

Will we be telling our techs which cars to hack out and which ones need to be repaired the correct way? Techs have long since formed bad habits and most have long forgotten what it felt like to take pride in their work. 


As insurers hammer on cost and time lines, quality rarely enters the picture. A happy customer with a good CSI report still doesn’t mean that the unsuspecting consumer received a quality repair. Many customers leave shops happy, never knowing that they had received a substandard repair –  far less than they are entitled to when paying insurance premiums.


By deceiving the public with massive advertising campaigns and donating to the right political organizations (such as the DOI), insurers are able to sway public opinion. They do this just to make more money, but responsibility to the consumer, along with fair and equitable business practices, must not be abandoned.  Let’s quit passing the buck and step up and tell the truth about collision repair.


Regardless of how often you tell me that black is white, black is still black. If aftermarket parts are truly “like kind and quality,” why would anyone have a problem using them? And if your friendly insurance company were really your partner, they would be concerned about your bottom line.


Truth is truth. The insurance company is not our partner, and aftermarket parts will never be the same as OEM. There, I finally said what everyone already knows. Does the insurance company speak the truth? Either they do or they don’t. Decide for yourself. It can’t be both ways.


Top Ten Insurer Myths

Misconceptions perpetuated by the insurance companies haunt me. Let me translate “insurance speak” into what I believe underlies these everyday quotes.

1. We would like you to think of us as your partner.
Subtext: We want you to think of us as your partner but we will not share any of our profits with you.

2. After market parts are as good as OEM. After all, our guarantee is better.
Subtext: For the few unsuspecting customers that catch their poor quality, it is still cheaper for the insurer to pay for a couple of re-do’s than to lose all of the profit we stand to gain by using aftermarket parts

3. Everyone else is using weld-on parts.
Subtext: Fix the car our way or we will send our work to someone who will.
4. I really don’t agree with your labor time. Could you do a small pull first and then add the repair labor.
Subtext: Even though I know this is a 12-hour floor job. If they make a pull it will look much better and I will be able to deduct some labor.

5. We don’t pay for “that.”
Subtext: If I pay you for “that” I may end up paying everyone else, so I must deny this operation at all cost

6. According to our formula, this repair took way to long.
Subtext: If you want work from us, you will have to pay for it by picking up the rental bill.
7. We never told them how to repair this vehicle.
Subtext: We will assume no liability for anything we forced this shop do.
8. I used to run a body shop.
Subtext: I saw the handwriting on the wall and was smart enough to get out while the getting was good

9. You can go anywhere you want but if you use that particular shop we will not guarantee the work.
Subtext: If you use a non-plan shop, it will cost us more money. We need to discourage you any way we can.

10. The check is in the mail.
Subtext: I would have paid you if you hadn’t sent in that supplement. Now you can just wait.

Am I lying?

Sound familiar? Have I told any lies? Have I exaggerated anywhere?  If not, where is the fair and equitable business practice that is required by the law? I don’t see it.

Help me out. Either I speak the truth or I don’t. Black is still black no matter how hard someone tries to convince me it’s white. I speak the truth. If you want to stay in denial, it won’t fix the problem. Pretending everything is okay doesn’t make it so.

The insurer shouldn’t set the standards for repairs that they assume no liability for. The substandard repair shouldn’t be the standard, but should be exposed for what it is, nothing more than a cut-rate repair.

The quality repair needs to reclaim its place as the industry standard by which we judge all other repairs. The truth is what it is.

In business for 26 years, Lee Amaradio, Jr. is the president and owner of “Faith” Quality Auto Body Inc. in Murrieta, California. With 65 employees, he attributes his success to surrounding himself with good help, claiming to have some of the best office staff and techs in our industry. Amaradio has been in this industry long enough to see the handwriting on the wall. He feels that now is the time for us to unite as an industry before it’s too late. He can be reached by e-mail at lee@faithqualityautobody.com