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Insurance Insider

Emperors and underwear? Referencing royalty’s skivvies in an article about body shops? Everyone in the kingdom thinks that the shops represent the peasants, while insurers are the heirs to the throne. Rumor has it that a CEO from one of the top three insurance carriers in the U.S. is a second-cousin to the Queen of England.

This is an interesting story and I don’t know quite where to start. How about: Elvis has just entered the building and nobody noticed. Is it possible for Elvis to walk into a room and take a seat yet have nobody notice that the King is in the house? It’s impossible, right?

The collision repair industry has too many body shops. I’m not sure anyone would seriously dispute that. The sooner we can rid ourselves of 15,000 body shops, the better all of us will be. Yes, it’s true, all of us will be far better off. This includes insurance companies, vendors, body shops themselves and consumers.

Before you can begin repairing a vehicle, you need an estimate. It’s the easiest part of this whole deal, right? You have a computerized estimating system that allows you to accurately document everything that is needed to fix the car.

When the repair industry (later than most) finally moved into the 21st century and started writing estimates by computer, shops and insurance companies alike likened computerized estimating to the advent of the washing machine. Why a washing machine?

The debate continues to rage: What is the standard for collision repairs? Who develops the standard? Is it possible to deviate from the standard? If you can deviate, what entity can provide an alternate to the standard?

You can ring the bell as Round 2 of the “Battle of the Century” has ended. Yes, “NACE vs. SEMA, Part 2” was very different from the prior year. The battleground changed from a Las Vegas faceoff to an Orlando vs. Las Vegas showdown.

“The Insider” is an auto insurance company executive who wishes to remain anonymous. This column reflects solely the opinion of The Insider in his unvarnished view of various issues impacting the collision industry.

Since the arrival of the first non-OEM crash part from overseas a few decades ago, the debate has raged on over the value, safety and benefit of using these parts. It’s important to note that the rage hasn’t come from the consumer (you know, the person that actually has the parts installed on their vehicle). So if the consumer doesn’t seem to care, who does and why?

In a previous column, I offered some of my thoughts on the decision of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) to make the Farmers Insurance “Circle of Dependability” (COD) agreement public, and to question some of the requirements of that direct repair program agreement.