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 California Autobody Association past presidents gathered at the annual meeting to honor the association's milestone year.  From left to right John Loftus, Kelly McCarty, Don Feeley,Jr., Maureen Holmes, Jack Caldwell, Rick Johnson, Chuck Bistagne, Ed Van Klavern, Russ Scamara, Ron Guilliams (seated),  Rick Reiss, Bill Rupp, Joe Boivin and Warwick Bryan.

Farmers Insurance is pushing to elect California State Assemblyman Tom Calderon (D-Montebello) as the new Insurance Commissioner of California, and to aid in that effort it is apparently soliciting campaign contributions from companies it does business with including its Circle of Dependability (COD) DRP shops. 

He laughs when he's asked about Progressive's "Concierge" program. His shop has participated in this DRP program's trial run since last fall. "It makes me think of a twist on that old Oldsmobile ad slogan: 'This is not your father's DRP'," said the second-generation East Coast shop owner who spoke about the Progressive program on the condition that neither his real name nor his business location (not even the state) be revealed. 

Listed below is the proposed act with the reasons for our opposition in italics. These are OKABA’s reasons for opposing. OKABA offers this report, so it is clear, OKABA’s decision is definitive.

The bill declares that Oklahoma vehicle owners should have the right to:

 The Right to Repair Act introduced in Oklahoma has stirred up support from CARE and opposition from OKABA towards the pending legislation.
 Democrat Lucky Lamons introduced House Bill 1584 in Oklahoma legislature on February 6. The legislation seeks to allow motorists to choose where, how and by whom to have their vehicles repaired.
 Sandy Bass-Cors, a representative of The Coalition for Auto Repair Equality, CARE, is in support of this bill. She said that independent collision repair facilities would benefit from this legislation.

With the November 2006 elections, the people have spoken and their voices are resonating throughout the corridors of Capitol Hill. The balance of power in Washington shifted from Republicans to Democrats for the first time since 1994. This dramatic change presents new opportunities and challenges for the collision industry.
Monday, 05 March 2007 16:47

WIN conference to unite industry females

A dynamic docket of topics and speakers are in store for those individuals attending the Women’s Industry Network (WIN) conference scheduled for April 29 through May 1 in Phoenix, Arizona.
    

The conference will cut across functional job lines and bring together female shop owners, technicians, and service and product providers for a series of inspiring speakers and informative seminars.

Allstate Insurance Company has announced that it plans to build six new Sterling/Allstate locations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. All locations will be new construction and be approximately 16,500 sq. ft. of office and shop area. Allstate currently has 39 other locations around the country and eight located in the Houston area. 

The push for VIN Disclosure legislation in 2007 took a major step forward with Senator Trent Lott’s (R-MS) introduction of the “Consumer Access to Total Loss Vehicle Data Act” (S.545).
    

The ARA said Senator Lott’s bill exemplifies his commitment to stem total loss vehicle-related fraud, theft and other illegal total loss vehicle activities, not only in the U.S., but worldwide. ARA applauds Senator Lott for his leadership in the effort to stem the abusive practices associated with title fraud.

The preliminary data from the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) auto body reinspection program that has found evidence of fraud in 43% of vehicles inspected is unlikely to change significantly when the final report is issued early next year, according to Dan Povey, the Sacramento-based program manager. "We have a solid six months of data in the computer. Based on my experience, the data from the first six months is usually indicative of what the final numbers will look like." 

Used or "recyclable" parts were the focus of discussion during a number of other presentations at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) held in mid-March in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Tuesday, 30 April 2002 17:00

GM says tests prove CAPA parts fall short

GM says its recent evaluation of fenders and hoods with CAPA stickers proved that they don't meet GM specs for fit, finish, material content and assembly characteristics. The GM hood was up to 40% stronger and 80% harder than the CAPA hoods. 

Three national collision industry associations are working together to enhance the accuracy and functionality of the estimating systems used by the collision repair community to fix today’s high-tech vehicles. The Alliance of Automotive Service Professionals (AASP), the Automotive Service Association (ASA) and the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) have teamed up to examine and enhance the content of the data found in the industry’s leading estimating systems.
    

The project is titled the Database Enhancement Gateway (DEG) and goals include the development of an industry Web site that would allow collision repair professionals to file requests for reviews of the various estimating systems and view the responses from the information provider(s) once available.

A message to CCRE members

To all CCRE member shops, the following is an example of what CCRE is actively doing constantly on your behalf. The following response from CCRE was recently entered into the debate at the Ohio DOI, concerning pressure from insurers and imitation parts certifiers such as CAPA, to change the wording of existing Ohio Rules to eventually have imitation parts be considered the same as OEM.
    

CCRE actively opposed such changes when they were twice considered, on a national level, at NCOIL meetings. Now, it appears that insurers and their imitation parts certifiers are going to go to individual state legislators to try to accomplish this on a state-by-state basis. Ohio appears to be among the first states to be hit. Your state may be next. So, watch what’s happening in your state, and keep CCRE informed. Together we can keep this “mad dog” at bay. 

    When the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) participants voted in opposition of holding a press conference about the CIC Anti-Fraud Committee’s findings on insurers lowballing initial estimates, a flurry of emails kept the issue alive.
   Many concerned with the committee’s findings - which revealed that insurers initial estimates account for about one half of what the final invoice is - planned two summits, one in Phoenix and one in Chicago in January. The summits were not a CIC function. Ohio attorney Erica Eversman was the common denominator as she served on panels at both the summits.
Monday, 05 March 2007 15:29

Write the first estimate and win

    I have a friend who made so much money in the body shop business that he had to retire because he was paying too much in taxes.
    It was obvious my friend, whose nickname is Fast Eddie, knew how to make a profit. He made a profit in large part because he knew how to write an estimate. His goal was always to write a complete estimate from the beginning. He wrote every estimate himself, taking whatever time he needed—sometimes hours—to tear down the car. He ordered every part, including nuts and bolts, needed to fix the car. Once the estimate was written, he pulled the car out of his shop and stored it in a lot across the street.

Caliber Collision Center's Costa Mesa, California location was closed for a week by the California Bureau of Auto Repair (BAR) as part of a settlement agreement reached by Caliber and BAR following the BAR's allegations of fraud, gross negligence, faulty record-keeping, and failure to comply with the regulations of the Automotive Repair Act.

    CAA members are reminded that they must post, at their place of business a summary of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred during 2006. The California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) requires the summary be displayed from Feb.1 to Apr. 30 for employee review.
    This posting requirement is a vital part of every employer’s obligation to keep workers informed about conditions that affect their occupational health and safety,” said John Rea, acting director for DIR. It creates awareness among employees so they can understand how to avoid similar injuries in the future.

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Jay Leno’s futuristic Eco-Jet will be on display at the March 28 panel hosted by BASF. Invited guests will have the opportunity to get a closer look at this rarity, which was painted with BASF waterborne product. Statistics show that California currently produces 20.7 tons of VOC emissions per day. The new state regulations have an overall goal of reducing these to 5.1 tons per day. BASF reported that their products will aim to help California achieve these goals by offering eco-friendly profitability to collision repairers.

    California B.A.R. Chief Sherry Mehl told an industry meeting on February 23 that the B.A.R. was withdrawing disciplinary guidelines that it had filed last year pending further review of those guidelines with the CAA and other automotive industry groups. According to CAA Executive Director David McClune, “Mehl wants to work on a set of guidelines that the stakeholders and B.A.R. can agree with.”
Sunday, 30 June 2002 17:00

Why is a body shop like a fruit stand?

Larry Edwards says collision repair shop owners could think of themselves as produce managers in a grocery store. 

Active Image   Don Feeley, Russ Bogh and Kelly McCarty exchange a few words at the CAA annual meeting. Former assemblyman Bogh shared insights into his time in Sacramento during a speech he gave at the meeting. “You are a special interest in Sacramento,” Bogh told the delegates, “ and you need to make friends.  It’s hard (for legislators) to say ‘no’ to friends.”

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    California Senator Jenny Oropeza has re-introduced the bill that prohibits the sale or transfer of a total loss salvage vehicle damaged from salt water. The bill is an effort to protect the California consumer, although auto body technicians would benefit due to inherent risks involved with working on these cars
    The danger, explained in the text of the bill, stated, “vehicles that have sat in saltwater mixed with sewage can result in health risks. Hurricane floodwaters contain numerous toxins, including, but not limited to, raw sewage, E. coli, petrochemicals, human and animal remains, arsenic, and lead.”

    The California B.A.R. has rescinded the Cease and Desist Order it issued to Progressive Insurance over operation of its San Diego Concierge facility, this according to Jack Molodanof, the longtime Sacramento lobbyist for the Cali-fornia Autobody Association (CAA). Molodanof made the announcement at the CAA annual convention in Anaheim on February 10.
    The B.A.R. had issued the Cease and Desist Order last year when it investigated complaints and initially determined that Progressive was performing work at its San Diego claims office that required a B.A.R. registration. Progressive still refused to register with the B.A.R., its lawyers arguing that the work done at the facility in estimating collision damage did not constitute automotive repairs. Progressive receives vehicles at the claims center, estimates damage and selects a body shop to make the repairs. Customers then pick up the completed vehicle at the Progressive claims center.
A California State Senate Bill that would make it illegal for an insurance company to have any financial interest in a body shop passed the Senate on May 29 by a vote of 28 to 7, with support from both Democrats and Republicans. The bill will now go to the State Assembly Insurance Committee for a vote.

Over 100 auto repair shops, including at least six body shops, have been sued as a group in Orange County for violations of the State's Business & Professions Code (which includes violations of B.A.R. regulations). The suit, Consumer Enforcement Watch Corp. v 7 Day Tire, Muffler & Auto, et al. was filed April 11 in Orange County Superior Court, Santa Ana. It alleges that the various defendant repair shops harmed consumers when they violated B.A.R. regulations including failure to renew their registrations on time, writing improper estimates, failing to secure proper approval for estimates, and failing to return parts removed from vehicles.

The California State Assembly Insurance Committee has passed by a bipartisan vote of 12-4 the Senate Bill that would make it illegal for an insurance company to have a financial interest in a body shop. Having earlier passed the full Senate (29-16), the bill will be read and likely voted upon by the full Assembly between August 6 and the end of the month. If passed by the Assembly, it will go to the Governor's desk and could become law on January 1. 

The California State Assembly on August 29 turned down State Senate 1648, a bill that would have prohibited insurance companies from owning bodyshops and forced the Automobile Club to divest its interest in Caliber Collision Centers. This opens the door for more insurance companies to buy or take a financial position in collision repair facilities. Allstate has already announced that it intends to open 17 - 20 Sterling shops in California beginning next year. 

Five major paint manufacturers and seven paint jobbers are named in a class action lawsuit for price-fixing in violation of State antitrust laws filed on August 15 in Los Angeles Superior Court. The action alleges that the paint companies and jobbers engaged in "horizontal price fixing and minimum resale price maintenance." The lawsuit covers the period from 1993 to the present and asks for class action status on behalf of 7,000 California body shops. It alleges that defendants "conspired to fix, raise, maintain or stabilize prices for automotive refinishing paint." The defendants include paint manufacturers PPG, DuPont, Sherwin-Williams and Akzo Nobel, together with jobbers D'ANgelo & Sons, Tri-City Paint Corporation, Finishmaster, Inc., Auto Color Specialists, Inc., National Oak Distributors, Inc., and Hayward Color, Inc. 

The California salvage industry won what the collision repair industry couldn't; a partial victory in Sacramento with the passage of two bills - and the defeat of a third - that begin to level the playing field between licensed salvage yards and the gray market of automotive rebuilders that bids against them for wrecked vehicles. 

The International Autobody Congress & Exposition (NACE) Town Hall will provide a forum for discussion and debate about some of the collision repair industry's hottest topics, including state and federal legislation regarding insurer-owned shops and right to repair, diminished value (DV) and post repair inspections, fraudulent practices, steering and what it means to repairers and consumers, the future of the industry -- image, technician shortage and the aging workforce -- and repair information availability. 

Monday, 30 September 2002 17:00

Improving your position with OEM parts dealers

They can help you improve your shop's cycle time. They can offer ideas to make your shop's parts ordering more efficient. And they certainly can have an impact on your parts profit.

Ten body shops were closed down and 35 people arrested, 29 of them body shop employees, in a Santa Clara County insurance fraud sting operation. The operation used an undercover agent who approached body shops in the Bay area and asked them to write inflated estimates so that minor body damage, often intentionally inflicted by the vehicle owner, could be increased to cover total repaint jobs and upgrades like spoilers or new seats. The Santa Clara District Attorney's office has issued additional felony arrest warrants. The sting operation was the largest of its kind in the nation, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. 

California Gov. Gray Davis signed on Sept. 23 the nation's first family leave bill, providing benefits for up to six weeks a year payable from the state disability insurance program to workers who must care for sick family members - children, spouses, parents and, in the case of gay couples, domestic partners. The family leave can also be taken to "bond" with newborn children, newly adopted children and new foster children. 

Five body shop owners in Texas have filed suit against State Farm for damaging their businesses. The group, represented by Dallas attorney Christopher Davis, alleges that State Farm interfered with their businesses and acted unlawfully to restrain trade and commerce in the markets where the plaintiffs have (or had) their businesses. 

Saturday, 30 November 2002 17:00

PPG distributors store destroyed by fire

Monday, July 29, Dave Cooper was working at his home office, planning events to celebrate the fifth anniversary of his PPG Platinum Distributor location in St. Louis, Missouri, when he received a call informing him that his store, Cooper Color, was on fire. When he arrived at his store 25 minutes later, he said, "I knew it wasn't good." 

Holmes Body Shop, the largest independent chain of collision repair shops in Southern California, has settled confidentially the lawsuit brought against it by DuPont for breaching a contract to buy its paint from DuPont. 

"Working Small and Effective" was the title of a class at the International Autobody Congress and Exposition (NACE) in Dallas, Texas in early December, but it could have been an apt theme for the event. Many wondered whether NACE would "feel the impact" (the actual theme of the show) of the five major paint companies being absent from the trade show floor. Indeed, attendance by both shops and vendors was down. (For details, see "NACE by the numbers".) 

Tuesday, 31 December 2002 17:00

Texas senator pledges to fight tied shops

A Texas state senator promised at NACE in Dallas to introduce a bill in the Texas 2003 Legislature that would prohibit an insurance company from acquiring any financial interest in a collision repair facility and require that any insurer currently owning body shops divest their interest by Sept. 1, 2006. 

A Texas appellate court's decision last month to slash a monetary award in the a major mold-related insurance claim case should have a positive effect on the state's insurance market and help quell the national mold hysteria it engendered, according to the Alliance of American Insurers (AAI). 

The Texas legislation unveiled at NACE that would prohibit an insurance company from holding or acquiring an interest in an automotive repair facility was scheduled to be introduced in Austin as early as February 4, this according to Jay Propes, a legislative consultant in Austin who is working with supporters of the bill. 

Saturday, 01 February 2003 17:00

Caliber say BAR aids lawyers in suing repairers

Caliber Collision is blaming the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) for the rash of lawsuits that have been filed against it and thousands of other auto repair shops based on violations of BAR regulations. 

Owners of small businesses ranging from auto repair shops to restaurants and nail salons have been howling about the lawsuits being filed against them in massive numbers by attorneys who allegedly abuse a section of the state's Unfair Competition Law known commonly as the Private Attorney General Act (Business & Professions Code Section 17200). The attorneys can use Section 17200 to sue small businesses and then pressure them for a quick settlement. In the case of auto repair, over 2,000 mechanical and collision repair shops have been sued, many of them for nothing more than a technical violation of BAR regulations such as failing to renew their registration on time - matters which they have since corrected. While many call such suits frivolous, they can never-the-less be costly to defend, and many business owners have chosen to settle them.  

Two bills that prohibit automobile insurers from having an ownership interest in an auto body repair facility have been introduced in the Texas legislature and appear to enjoy considerable support. Texas Senate bill 435, introduced by State Sen. John J. Carona (R-Dallas) on February 17, has 14 co-sponsors and has been referred to the Business and Commerce Committee. 

Friday, 28 February 2003 22:59

Anti-steering bill with teeth introduced

A bill to strengthen the California anti-steering laws was introduced in the California State Senate by Sen. Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco) on February 20. The bill would prohibit an insurer from recommending that an automobile be repaired, or not be repaired, at a specific auto body repair shop, unless the claimant specifically requests a referral. It would allow a claimant or repair shop damaged by a violation of this provision to recover damages and costs. 

The California State Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) has suspended its use of The Notice of Violation (NOV) and the public disclosure of consumer complaints that result in the issuance of an NOV. 

Attorney General Bill Lockyer on February 26 filed a consumer protection action against the Trevor Law Group of Beverly Hills, alleging the firm committed unfair business practices in slapping thousands of small businesses with abusive lawsuits filed solely to obtain nuisance settlements and attorneys fees. 

The State Bar of California announced in mid March that it has filed a petition to enroll inactive three attorneys from the Beverly Hills firm Trevor Law Group who allegedly defrauded small business owners under Business & Professions Code Section 17200. 

When John Garamendi was campaigning last fall to be elected California Insurance Commissioner, he addressed the California Autobody Association and said one of his priorities would be to revisit and strengthen the Fair Claims Settlement Practices (FCSP) regulations - the regulations that govern how insurers must handle claims. 

A Los Angeles County judge has dismissed nine lawsuits filed against thousands of LA County mechanical and auto body repair shops by the Beverly Hills law firm Trevor Law Group. The lawsuits enraged the defendant shop owners and caught the eye of the media, resulting in a myriad of actions begin taken by the State Attorney General, the State Bar Association and the State Legislature. 

Monday, 31 March 2003 17:00

Fire hits San Diego body shop

A late night fire damaged a San Diego body shop in mid February, causing an estimated $75,000 damage, including the destruction of a 1936 Mercedes-Benz replica kit that the shop had just finished painting. 

Texas House Bill 1131, sponsored by Reps. Kino Flores (D-Mission), Kenny Marchant (R-Carrollton), Joe Driver (R-Dallas), Allan Ritter (D-Nederland), and Rick Hardcastle (R-Vernon), now has over 80 co-sponsors. The bill will make it illegal for an insurance company to have any ownership interest in an auto body repair facility. 

California auto repair shops are being put on notice to perform the jobs for which they have been contracted - and do them correctly. 

The proposed Texas law that would prohibit insurance companies from owning body shops took major steps forward in April, passing the Assembly (HB 1131) and securing enough sponsors to insure passage in the Senate, but ran into stiff opposition from Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, forcing a redrafting of the legislation into a more comprehensive bill, but one that would allow Allstate to keep its current Sterling Collision Centers. 

Saturday, 31 May 2003 17:00

Salvage airbags, OEM info debated at CIC

The issue of reuse of non-deployed airbags from salvaged vehicles returned to the spotlight at the Collision Industry Conference in Phoenix in April with a panel discussion that included information on a program being developed to certify such airbag modules. 

Saturday, 31 May 2003 17:00

Caliber drops lawsuit

Caliber Collision has dropped its lawsuit against the Bureau of Automotive Repair (see Autobody News February 2003) that it filed in January over postings of Notices of Violation (NOV) on the BAR website. Matthew Ohrnstein, CEO of Caliber Collision, told the Collision Industry Conference in April that Caliber has dropped the lawsuit they had filed against the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR).

The California Senate Committee on Insurance has passed Senate Bill 551, a bill that would prohibit an insurer from recommending a motor vehicle be repaired at a specific shop unless the insured requests such a referral. It allows an insured or other claimant or repair dealer to recover damages, if harmed by a violation of this provision. 

The Beverly Hills attorneys who filed over 2,000 lawsuits against auto repair shops and other small businesses in California, making headlines throughout the state and leading to calls for action against them by state legislators and an investigation by The State Attorney General, were placed on involuntary inactive status by the State Bar Court in late May. In other words, their licenses to practice law have been suspended as disciplinary proceedings toward possible disbarment continue. In its ruling, the State Bar Court agreed with its prosecutors that the lawyers had filed thousands of frivolous lawsuits with the intent of forcing quick settlements.