Tuesday, 13 February 2018 15:24

In Reverse: John Loftus – The Dragon Slayer

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“We never threatened to sue them,” said Loftus. “We were never condescending to any party. I always treated the shop and the insurance company with dignity and respect, and we always came to a resolution because I listened to all parties, and we kept the customer in mind. The consumers spent a lot of money in insurance premiums---now it’s time for the insurance company and the shop to make things right for them because that’s what they paid for.”


Loftus remembered one particular instance where an insurance company wanted a shop to clip the rear end of a car. The shop knew it was an unsafe repair, refused to do it, and the shop was removed from that carrier’s DRP program. The shop called Loftus to see what could be done. In a short time, Loftus had talked the insurers into totaling the car, the shop was reinstated in the insurer’s DRP program and the adjuster was exposed for having some ulterior motives for wanting the car clipped.


When asked about his “finest moment” as SCRS Director, Loftus pointed to a brochure called “Insured Motorists’ Rights.” One of the things that insurance companies had customers do was get three estimates from three different body shops, then make them choose the lowest estimate. Customers found that irritating. Legitimate shops found it counterproductive and less-then-ethical shops used it to low-ball customers to get the work. SCRS worked hard to eliminate that practice.


Loftus explained, “For the first time, we had a ‘tool’ that shops could use to fight the ‘three estimate’ practice.”


Loftus then went state-by-state, working with the local state-level affiliated associations, getting them to speak with their respective state insurance commissioner to make sure they could distribute their “Motorists’ Rights” brochures. In Illinois, the state insurance commissioner was very difficult to meet with. Finally, the commissioner was due to be at the Chicago airport for a morning flight and told Loftus he would meet him at the airport at a designated time if he wanted to talk then. Loftus hopped on a red-eye flight and made his appointment with the commissioner. The “Motorists’ Rights” brochure was approved 10 days later.


When asked if there was any work he had left undone at SCRS---anything he wanted to do but never had the time or resources to accomplish---Loftus replied, “We did as much as we could every chance we got. We never worried about the resources---We would find some way to get things done. It was a rewarding time for me, and people appreciated what we did. I have no regrets or work left undone.”


Loftus was the SCRS Director for 19 years, retiring in 2000, when the reins were turned over to industry icon Dan Risley. In 2003, Loftus and his friend, Larry Martin, began Loftus and Martin Long Range deep-sea fishing excursions out of San Diego, each trip escorting 23 anglers on a two-week cruise.


And that thing about the “Dragon Slayer”… when Loftus retired he was presented with a huge sword in a wood and glass case by the Kansas City and Topeka Chapter of SCRS, where he was deemed to be the “Dragon Slayer Extraordinaire”… the “dragon” being all the issues and problems Loftus tried to address and resolve during his time as SCRS Director. John Loftus was truly a champion of the industry---a Dragon Slayer Extraordinaire.

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