Thursday, 22 March 2012 16:10

Iowa Shop’s Action and Iowa Collision Repair Association, Established in 2005, Starting to be Heard Statewide

When Tom O’Mara, an Iowa shop owner, was told by an insurance company that they were only going to pay him $52 an hour, even though his labor rate is $56, he became “mad as heck and was not going to take it anymore.” He called the vehicle owner and read the state law to him. The law in Iowa says that if the insurer writes an estimate or has one written for them, and the repair costs more than the estimate, the insurer must pay the difference. The vehicle owner called the insurer and insisted they pay O’Mara’s bill. Then O’Mara called the Iowa Governor’s office repeatedly until he got a face to face meeting with Governor Terry Branstad. O’Mara had to convince the governor’s aide first before getting a meeting with the governor. He showed him estimates and letters he claims revealed insurer threats against him, the last three years’ worth of price increases he has had to endure, and a copy of the 1963 Consent Decree. “I highlighted everything in the Consent Decree that the insurers agreed not to do anymore,” O’Mara said. “I let them know this is the third time I’ve given a copy of the Consent Decree to the State of Iowa and asked, ‘What are you going to do about it? This is still enforceable.” As a result of this meeting, the Governor requested that the Iowa Department of Insurance research three business practices in Iowa: collision repair labor rates, steering, and non payment of storage. This was last September.

This story made national news in USA Today and may have helped open a line of communication between Iowa collision repairers and the governor’s office.

In only a few years, the ICRA has become an established and recognized state organization that supports education, training, and industry networking.

Sales Tax Reimbursement Legislation
Due to the abbreviated legislative session at the State Capital in Des Moines in 2011, the ICRA Sales Tax Legislation was tabled. Representative Tom Sands has been working closely with ICRA lobbyist Scott Weiser and has committed that this initative will be first in line in the legislative docket in 2012.

In 2008 ICRA stopped the Color All franchise from getting licensed to do business in Des Moines. Color All is a franchise that promotes collision repair work done in a parking lot under a tent. ICRA has been introduced to the legislative process at the State Capital in Des Moines, working with the National Federation of Independent Business State Manager, Andy Warren.

In December last year, six Board Members of the Iowa Collision Repair Association (ICRA) met with Iowa Insurance Commissioner, Susan Voss and approximately twenty representatives of the insurance companies. The DOI recognized the association as representative of the collision industry and asked them to assist with the labor rate survey in the next 30 days. Against the recommendation of the ICRA, a labor rate survey was done in that short period of time and results have not yet been posted. This is a work in process and we are looking for a better working relationship with the DOI and Governor’s office in Iowa and will move forward this year on the Governor’s request.

This association is hosting the Midwest Auto Body Trade Show, March 28 at Prairie Meadows, in the Des Moines area. Admission is free, there are management, technical training, and product demos. Over 50 vendors are participating. We are very excited about this event. It is going to have great product displays and lots of show specials and door prizes.

Most Iowa Community College Collision Repair programs will also have booths and bring their students to the show. Also, three of our dealership members are bringing hot new cars to the show room floor. Admission is free and the ICRA is anticipating a great and enthusiastic crowd. For more information: www.iowacra.com

Read 2894 times