The 2004 International Autobody Congress & Exposition (NACE) registration fee will include a badge that will admit attendees to the NACE Exposition, as well as Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week (AAIW) shows - SEMA and AAPEX. NACE will also provide a complimentary shuttle that will run between NACE and AAIW shows. Both arrangements are designed to increase the value and add convenience to attending this year's NACE, being held November 3-6 in Las Vegas during AAIW.
Optimism was in the air at the Arizona Collision Craftsmen's Association (ACCA) May meeting as they celebrated the signing of HB 2468 into law by Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's final settlement in April with two auto insurers will result in estimated refunds of more than $700,000 to Texas policyholders who paid more on their claims for auto repairs than their policies required.
The Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act, H.R. 2735, has reached a landmark number of 106 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality (CARE). The Right to Repair Act was introduced in the House July 15, 2003, by Representatives. Joe Barton (R-TX) and Edolphus Towns (D-NY) and in the U.S. Senate on February 26, 2004, by Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-SC). The Senate bill, S. 2138, has 10 co-sponsors in the Senate.
A California state court lawsuit for alleged price-fixing by paint companies in the automotive refinishing market has taken a big step forward. Superior Court Judge Ronald Sabraw on June 17 granted a motion certifying the case as a class action. The step is important because individual named plaintiffs, namely small body shops, would have been unable to prosecute an expensive price-fixing case against large corporate defendants such as DuPont and PPG.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao announced in April the final regulations governing overtime eligibility for "white-collar" workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The regulations had not been substantially updated for over 50 years, creating confusion for workers and employers, generating wasteful class action litigation, and failing to effectively protect workers' pay rights, according to the Department of Labor.
The Joint Sunset Review Committee and the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) has issued recommendations to the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR). These recommendations are similar to those submitted to the Sunset Review Committee by the DCA Director Charlene Zettel in early June, with one notable exception and two additional recommendations (see June ABN).
In May Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano signed into law House Bill 2468. HB 2468 includes anti-steering provisions that protect consumer choice and place limitations on the claims adjuster making repair decisions, thereby protecting the competitive market. The bill has mandatory reporting requirements with stiff penalties for violations of the bill.
Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi has announced that received workers' compensation rate filings illustrate a downward trend, but still fall short of his pure premium rate advisory of -20.9 percent issued on May 28, 2004.
When the The International Autobody Congress & Exposition (NACE) 2004 Educational Conference opens on November 3 in Las Vegas, it will have two new tracks - Sales & Marketing and Estimating, as well as an increased number of focused sessions for dealers, jobbers and claims professionals. New 45-minute "crash course" sessions in several of these tracks should prove popular with many attendees who don't want to commit several hours to a topic.
The auto body shop in Fort Worth, Texas took in the repair just like any other day. The customer signed the repair order for a damaged 1997 GMC pickup truck, got in the rental car, then drove that rental car off to rob the Frost Bank! Not quite the usual scenario.
The nation's largest auto insurer has no plans to join the other insurers setting performance benchmarks for shops participating in its direct repair program - but it may do more to help those 20,000 shops understand how their performance stacks up.
NACE show management is reporting that the number of companies scheduled to exhibit in the 2004 International Autobody Congress & Exposition (NACE) is up 23 percent over last year, and the size of the Exposition has already exceeded last year's event by 11,600 square feet.
For $5.8 million, Caliber Collision Centers (Caliber) has resolved a consumer fraud lawsuit filed in California and agreed to disciplinary actions initiated by the state Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) that alleged Caliber billed customers for parts and services that were not provided.
Automotive Service Association (ASA) leaders met with U.S. Rep. Chris John, D-La., to discuss the Agreement between the automakers and ASA providing service information to independent repairers. The ASA executive committee briefed Rep. John on the progress of the Agreement.
Now that the anti-steering bill HB 2468 has passed in Arizona, what is the next step for the Arizona Collision Craftsmen's Association (ACCA)? (Autobody News, July 2004) The bill, sponsored by Fairness for Automotive Consumers (FAC), includes anti-steering provisions that protect con-sumer choice, place limitations on the claims adjuster making repair decisions thereby protecting the competitive market, and has mandatory reporting requirements with stiff penalties for violations of the bill.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has filed court-approved settlements with two auto insurers to refund more than $3.4 million to Texas policyholders who paid more out of pocket on claims for auto repairs in certain years than their policies required.
California authorities arrested 38 people for alleged auto insurance fraud at more than 30 auto body shops in the Sothern California cities of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. If convicted, each suspect faces up to five years in state prison and a maximum fine of $50,000.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his support for Proposition 64, a November ballot measure whose supporters claim would stop "shakedown lawsuits."
California independent body shop owners got a boost on September 29 when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill that amends the automotive repair laws (Business & Professions Code Sec. 9880) to more strictly define who the customer is when a vehicle is being repaired, making it clear that an insurance company paying to repair a car is not the customer and cannot take the place of the customer.
Farmers Insurance Exchange has begun serving civil summons and complaints upon a Los Angeles body shop and its director, accusing them of taking part in a scheme designed to defraud Farmers and its policyholders. The civil complaint, which is similar to prior suits filed against shops, seeks damages for the fraud committed.
Standing at the corner of 8th Street and Kingsley Drive in Koreatown in Los Angeles, Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi announced several arrests in a large "paper collision" insurance fraud ring. He also asked the community to assist in locating three members who remain at large.
Oil, antifreeze and paint. An auto body repair facility can create more than 200 gallons of potentially hazardous waste each year. Where do these by-products of the body shop business go?
Warning drivers that anyone can become a victim of insurance fraud, Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi and the California Highway Patrol (CHP) announced the bust of an alleged auto insurance fraud ring that cost insurers - and ultimately policyholders - at least $1.5 million in the past year alone.
The International Autobody Congress and Exposition (NACE) may have been the main draw that attracted more than 30,000 participants in the collision industry to Las Vegas in November, but there was no shortage of other meetings and events to also occupy their time while they were there.
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.
America's car owners are having increasing trouble getting their cars repaired, according to a recent CBS television "Consumer News Alert." CBS News anchorman John Roberts says car dealers' service departments are gaining ground, and that could cost consumers time and money. The news segment aired January 21 on the "CBS Evening News with Dan Rather."
California authorities arrested ten auto body shop owners and employees in February, charging them with various felony counts of insurance fraud following "Operation Scorpion" - a joint investigation by the California Department of Insurance Fraud Division (CDI) and the San Mateo County District Attorney's office.
After a year-long investigation, seven Allpro Paint and Body shops in the San Diego area were shut down in November after their registrations were revoked by the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR).
A widespread and significant drop in ADP refinish labor times discovered in recent weeks will be corrected in ADP's November CD update release, which the company says has been sent to ADP customers.
Some shop owners say the use of aluminum in vehicles today is similar to the shifts in the industry caused by the rise of the unibody structure in the 1980s.
A committee of Oregon lawmakers last month said they like the concept of consumers being made aware of direct repair agreements between collision repair shops and insurers, but the details of how to accomplish that still needs some work.
A bill introduced in the California legislature in February would establish a legal presumption that "certified" non-OEM crash parts are legally of "like kind and quality" to OEM parts. Assembly Bill 1163 (AB 1163) would also invalidate the current law that prohibits an insurer from requiring the use of non-OEM parts unless the vehicle owner is told of and approves the use of such parts on his car, replacing it with the requirement that the following statement appear on the estimate: "This estimate has been prepared based on the use of crash parts supplied by the manufacturer of your vehicle or certified aftermarket crash parts supplied by an independent manufacturer."
Shop owners must remain ever attentive to legislation introduced to control aspects of the collision repair process. Provisions may be added to seemingly innocuous bills that can have devastating effects on how autobody shops do business. And a bill's sponsor can be a clue to the need for added vigilance.
In the blink of an eye, it was all over but the shouting. With the ink barely dry on a letter of intent from Caliber Collision Centers to purchase 27 shops from the financially troubled M2 Collision Care Centers, the deal was dead. According to Caliber Vice President John Walcher, as the due diligence began, it became apparent that the deal would not be consummated and Caliber pulled out. At press time, unconfirmed reports indicated that Caliber had not purchased a single M2 shop, but was negotiating on the large, still unsold Santa Monica location.
Here's your assignment: Pretend you have 45 seconds to talk about your business in front a group of people you'd love to have as customers. Could you tell them something that's unique about your business, something that no other shop in your area could or is likely to tell them?
The multi-association task force created to address repairer concerns about how the estimating database companies operate reported on its early progress in April and defended its decision to include insurers in the process.
A bill introduced in the California State Senate that was called "extremely bad for the collision repair industry" by the California Autobody Association (CAA) was effectively gutted in the insurance committee before being passed and sent to the full senate.
With the growing number of insurance company direct repair programs - and with many insurers processing an increasing percentage of their claims through such programs - it's easy to understand why some states are looking to put the brakes on "steering" of work by insurers.
Calling it "a piece of legislation as 'American as apple pie,' and one that is vital to motoring consumers and the five million plus Americans working in the automotive aftermarket," David Parde, the president of the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality, applauded U.S. Representatives Joe Barton (R-TX) and Edolphus Towns (D-NY) for re-introducing H.R. 2048: The Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act in the 109th Congress.
The carcass of M2 Collision Centers, until last month the second largest collision repair chain in California and one of the largest in the country, has been thoroughly picked over. The assets of 26 M2 shops were sold as of May 31, with only the Van Nuys location's equipment remaining to be sold piecemeal when the dust had settled.
The California Autobody Association (CAA) met with Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi early in August to discuss the enforcement of SB 551 (Anti-Steering Law) and the labor rate surveys that the Department of Insurance (DOI) have been receiving from insurance companies pursuant to Labor Rate Survey Insurance Code 758(c).
Although the percentage of dealerships with body shops has declined over the past 30 years, a growing number of automakers are working to help dealership shops gain market share. How successful they will be remains to be seen, but independent shop owners would be foolish to ignore the threat - or possibly the opportunity - these efforts may offer.
ASA held its annual business meeting in April in Fort Worth, Texas. The event provided a forum for several association leadership activities including open meetings of the ASA affiliate assembly and board of directors; a State of the Association address by Ron Pyle, ASA's president and chief staff executive; and the installation of the 2005-06 board of directors.
Allstate Insurance Company has rolled out a new auto insurance plan - Allstate® Your Choice Auto Insurance, which the company says breaks the mold of products traditionally offered by many insurers by presenting consumers even more choices, innovative features and enhanced rewards for safe drivers.