Sunday, 31 July 2005 10:00

CCRE president disputes ASA vision of repairer-insurer relations

Written by Dick Strom

The following excerpt from a letter by CCRE president Tony Lombardozzi, Automotive Collision Repair Services, is in response to Geralynn Kottschade's opinion piece, Not Such A Nightmare, (Hammer and Dolly April 2005). In her opinion piece, Kottschade, chairman of the Automotive Service Association and NACE '05, soft-soaped the repairer-insurer relationship in responding to editor of H&D Sheila Loftus' suggestion that this industry "should have an industry-wide discussion about returning the collision industry to whom it rightfully belongs -- the collision repairer and the vehicle owner." 

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Yes, Geralynn, it is a nightmare.

Dear Ms. Kottschade:

After reading your response to Sheila's article, I guess it would be something that should be expected. ASA has always danced around the DRP issue and has never really taken a stance on what effect it has on the repair industry.

First let me explain that the Collision Repair Industry is made up of the individuals that repair collision damaged vehicles and are in the repair business. Even your associates at I-CAR realized that when it was formed in 1979. That is the reason it is called the Inter-industry Conference - meaning a combination of more than one industry.

An example would be the "separate industry of insurance" and the "separate industry of recyclers" as well as the "separate industry of repairers." The so-called leaders of our industry began an effort to make us believe that we were one and the same industry. Of course this was done for their own self-interests and personal gain.

Insurers, recyclers, parts suppliers, rental car agencies and adjusters are no more part of the repair industry than would be my waste hauler, booth maintenance provider or utilities provider. They all provide a service to my clients or me, but they are not in the business of repairing collision-damaged vehicles.

You can spin your story any way you like, but we do have a problem and we are beginning to correct it. There is a strong movement among shop owners to take back control of the collision repair industry and the repair process itself. One such group is the Coalition for Collision Repair Excellence [CCRE]. CCRE believes the only people to be making repair decisions are the repairers themselves along with the manufacturer of that damaged product.

There are a few who have benefitted greatly by spreading the DRP word for their insurer partners. Those very few people do not represent the majority of the DRP community. We have the statistics to prove it. DRPs are used to control the marketplace and insurers are willing to make a few of you wealthy in order to suppress the remainder of the market and suppress the remaining DRP shops.

How many times have you taken your DRP partners to task when they ask your shop to remove a vehicle from another repair shop that the consumer initially chose? Do you tell your partner no thanks or do you help condone the steering problem? Look what happened with ASA when Allstate wanted to put Sterling in Texas. ASA and some of its DRP executives cried foul and asked the industry to help stop a problem they always ignored. Guess steering is OK until it hits your home.

If you are so enthused about how good insurers and DRPs are for this industry, I suggest that you approach ASA and set a time slot at NACE for a seminar hosted by those in this industry that believe the way I do. Let's leave it to chance on who attends and what the outcome will be.