Among the most common types of questions I get from shops is something like this:
“Mike, I see this particular procedure you ask about in one of your ‘Who Pays for What’ surveys, but we just can’t seem to ever get paid for that. How are shops negotiating for that?”
I take a two-track response to this type of question. First, I challenge them to ensure that they’ve actually really tried to get paid for whatever the procedure is. After three years of conducting “Who Pays” surveys, I never cease to be amazed at the percentage of shops that acknowledge they’ve never negotiated to be paid for some of the procedures.
Take “airbag residue clean-up” as an example of one such not-included procedure. Our survey last spring found that even though more than one-third of shops (36 percent) said they are paid for this procedure “always” or “most of the time” by the eight largest national insurers when it is a necessary step they perform, more than 60 percent of shops have never sought to be paid for it.
But once a shop shows me they have asked to be paid for a procedure but just aren’t being successful, I suggest they use a four-question process to prepare for future negotiations.
Question #1: Is it required to return the vehicle back to pre-accident condition?
Have you documented that the procedure is necessary? Check out the OEM repair procedures, ideally through the automaker websites directly. Get the appropriate bulletins from your paint manufacturer. Other manufacturers of materials or equipment offer bulletins detailing the need for some of these procedures. Scanning the vehicle may provide documentation of the need for some operations.
Question #2: Is it included in any other labor operation?
No estimator should be without a copy of the estimating guides (often referred to as “p-pages”) for all the estimating systems. You can download them from the “Estimate Toolbox” section on the Database Enhancement Gateway (DEG) website (www.DEGweb.org). You can also search the DEG database of inquiries submitted to the estimating system providers; there may already be a response confirming that the procedure you are working to negotiate for is “not-included.” (Our “Who Pays” survey reports now include those DEG inquiries related to each procedure.) If there isn’t already an inquiry related to the procedure, you can submit one yourself.