Advancing a cause that is steadily gaining momentum, the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers (AASP) - a national association representing the collision repair industry - has endorsed the petition spearheaded by the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) to support two-way communication between like estimating systems.
While no particular issue or news event seemed to dominate the industry's attention this past year - other than perhaps the slow-down in work shops felt in many parts of the country - it hasn't been a quiet one for collision repairers. Here is the annual year-in-review wrap-up, a collection of some of the most memorable, important, interesting or enlightening quotes heard around the industry during 2004.
With profit margins generally razor-thin at best these days, the last thing shops can afford to do is lose money in a scam. That's why a number of shop owners recently have come forward to share their stories of losing - or almost losing - some of their hard-earned money - as a caution against others doing the same.
Eric Reid wants to do his part to reduce the shortage of collision repair technicians he's always hearing and reading about. But Reid, the collision repair instructor at Northwest-Shoals Commun-ity College in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, is getting discouraged watching his top students move on to other fields because of low starting wages at body shops.
As Texas autobody shop owners continue to await a decision on Allstate vs. Abbott - the insurer's challenge to H.B. 1131 prohibiting insurer-owned collision repair facilities - two other states have introduced legislation attempting to ban tied-repair facilities. Although there are no Sterling Autobody shops or Caliber Collision Centers in Indiana and Missouri, those states are making a pre-emptive strike against insurer encroachment upon the independent body shops.
The last two in a five-year series of settlements with various insurance companies to give refunds to Texas policyholders who paid more out-of-pocket on claims for auto repairs than their policies required were completed by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.
Attorneys General across the country signed settlements ensuring refunds totaling $40 million to consumers who unknowingly purchased vehicles that were previously damaged and deemed total losses by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.
The Nevada Collision Industry Association (NCIA) wrapped up its first full year in a whirlwind of success. The handful of members who established the NCIA in October of 2003 has grown to 46, with the prospect of continuing to increase membership in 2005.
Farmers Insurance Exchange has begun serving civil summons and complaints upon a nationwide auto glass company and its president, accusing them of taking part in a scheme designed to defraud Farmers and its policyholders. The civil complaint, which is similar to prior successful lawsuits against body shops who submitted false insurance claims, seeks not only damages for the fraud committed, but seeks injunctive relief, where the courts are asked to order a halt to these deceptive practices.