But Grinnell conducted their claims business very differently from how virtually every other insurance company did. Shops in their network did not bother to write estimates. Grinnell agents sent policyholders’ cars to the network shops. The shop simply repaired the car in a safe and proper manner and sent the bill to the Grinnell claims department. Grinnell’s policy was that the shop should be trusted to repair the car properly and at a fair and competitive price, and in return, they would pay the claim in a timely fashion, and all the bickering and animosity would be removed from the equation. In the ensuing nine years of conducting business in this manner, only two shops were removed from the network. In addition to giving the shops its trust, Grinnell’s also loaned money to any of its network shops for new equipment or other business expansion purposes.
In the early summer of 1963, 100 auto body repairmen attended a seminar in Iowa conducted by Farmers Mutual Reinsurance Company. During the all-day clinic, three damaged vehicles were repaired by equipment company representatives. The clinic, then unique in the automotive insurance industry, was part of Farmer’s program of working with body shops to maintain high standards of workmanship, facilities and integrity. In the course of the clinic, qualifying shops were appointed as approved repair centers, then started receiving work from the company’s claim section without a cost estimate being submitted. A Farmer’s representative said, “…such a system is practical, time-saving and efficient for the insured, the body shop and the company.”
Unfortunately, not all shops conducted themselves with all insurance companies the way they did with Grinnell Mutual or Farmers Mutual in 1963. Many shops tried to profit fraudulently on the backs of insurance companies, causing many insurers to turn to the forerunners of the DRP program---informal agreements to give work only to “honest” shops.