“Don’t tie yourself down to stupid [expletive] like this,” Tracy said. “If you have a website, make it vague. Make it ambiguous.”
He said shops should never admit that “you’re letting insurance companies dictate how you’re repairing vehicles.”
Better yet, he said, stop allowing that to happen.
“If you take away one thing from this talk, [it should be this]: Never put your company’s profit over your customer’s safety,” Tracy said. “That’s a good way to get your ass whipped. And that’s what happened [to the Texas shop].”
Instead, he suggested, “Tell your customer in writing what the insurance company is doing, that you recommend against it because the vehicle will not be as safe in the event of an accident, and that their family or a future owner of the vehicle can be seriously injured or killed,” Tracy said. “Be a hero and stand up to the insurance companies and tell them and your customer in writing that the insurance company’s [suggested] repairs violate OEM repair specifications and will cause serious injury or death…if an accident occurs in the future, and that you will not repair the vehicle knowing you are placing someone’s life at risk.”
If the customer won’t back you up, Tracy said, have them “sign off on your shop performing the insurance company’s repair so you can cover your ass.”
Tracy didn’t sugarcoat the impact this could have on a shop’s business, acknowledging “you’ll lose some money at first,” and “there’s going to be a few casualties along the way.”
But he said if more than just the handful of shops currently standing up to insurers start doing so, the industry could change.
“When you all give that insurance company that same piece of paper, and you put it to them like this, that your customer is going to die or be seriously injured or maimed, I don’t think they’re going to go take [that vehicle] down to the Service Kings or the Caliber Collisions,” Tracy said. “I don’t think they’re going to take it to the Julio Smiths of the world.”
Like Mississippi attorney Eaves did four years earlier, Tracy promised to “be a warrior” for the shops that stand with him against the insurers.
“I will fight these [expletive],” he said. “If I can take on car manufacturers, I can assure you I can take on a [expletive] little company like State Farm or Allstate.
John Yoswick, a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon, who has been writing about the automotive industry since 1988, is also the editor of the weekly CRASH Network (www.CrashNetwork.com). He can be contacted by email at john@CrashNetwork.com.