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A lot of hard work could go down the drain in Sacramento because the California Senate Appropriations Committee has placed a bill that deals with resolving collision repair disputes between insurance companies and their customers, SB 1492, in the "suspense file." Action on this bill is suspended while the fiscal impact of this and other new legislation is determined. Hearings are currently being held to decide which bills will be released from the suspense file. 

Effective May 17, the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) adopted a new regulation that will add flexibility to the process under which additional repairs may be authorized. The new regulation [Title 16 CCR3353(f)] permits the customer to designate another person to authorize additional parts and labor written estimated price. 

Darrell Amberson, AAM, Lehman's Garage, Bloomington, Minnesota, has been re-elected as Collision Division director of the Automotive Service Association (ASA). As such, Amberson serves on ASA's board of directors and chairs the ASA Collision Division Operations Committee. The position of Collision Division director is a two-year term. Jerry Burns, AAM, Automotive Impressions Inc., Rio Rancho, N.M., has been chosen to serve assistant division director. 

Allstate and Audatex, a Solera Company, (formerly ADP Claims Services Group) have entered an agreement for Audatex to provide mobile estimating tools and valuation services to Allstate. Under the agreement, Audatex will continue to provide Allstate's auto adjusters with PenPro® software and Autosource® valuation services. 

Former NFL quarterback and Hall of Fame member Troy Aikman will be the NACE 2006 keynote speaker. DuPont Performance Coatings is the sponsor of the Aikman ap-pearance on Thursday morning, November 2 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. 

Hiring a new employee can be tricky business. One West Coast shop owner found that out recently when within two days he suddenly found himself down three technicians. Before he could even get a 'help wanted' ad place, a man came in looking for work. 

Here's your assignment: Pretend you have 45 seconds to talk about your business in front of 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? 

Friday, 30 June 2006 17:00

Central Texas hailstorms were costly

The hailstorms that pounded central Texas this spring were costly. The final tally for insured losses reached $160 million. The city of San Marcos bore the brunt of the storm. Hundreds of homes and businesses were damaged as well hundreds of new and used cars, some of them totaled. 

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has instituted an asset freeze and temporary restraining order against the owner of a Houston auto auction, seeking an accounting for millions of dollars in fees fraudulently assessed against those who participated in auctions to purchase vehicles. 

With the opening of the first Concierge Program service center in California, located in San Diego, Progressive Insurance has created a furor over what type of collision repair activities require registration with the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) and reopened the question of whether an insurer can stand in the shoes of its insured in negotiating and authorizing collision repairs. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing recently to discuss "The McCarran-Ferguson Act: Implications of Repealing the Insurers' Antitrust Exemption." According to Senator Arlen Specter, R-Pa., committee chairman, this is the first hearing on McCarran-Ferguson by the full committee since 1989. 

In response to concerns of collision repairers raised at the annual National Industry Issues Forum (NIIF), hosted by the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS), Mitchell International has issued an open invitation to the collision repair industry to come see how the company develops, verifies, and maintains labor times. In a press release, Mitchell said it looks forward to demonstrating complete transparency to collision repairers, SCRS association leaders and members, along with collision repair industry press and analysts, so all can understand how the company derives and maintains its labor times database. 

Supporters and detractors continue to vie for position as the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee prepares to hold a markup for the Motor Vehicle Right to Repair Act (HR 2048). This legislation, which is expected to be considered this year, will make it mandatory for automobile manufacturers to disclose to car buyers and independent repair shops the information needed to repair or maintain their vehicles. 

The redesigned Chevrolet Impala and Toyota Avalon, both equipped with standard side air bags, earn top ratings of good in side crash tests that simulate an impact from an SUV or pickup truck. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (Institute) recently conducted side tests of eight large family cars. The Buick Lucerne and Hyundai Azera, also equipped with standard side air bags, earn the second highest rating of acceptable. 

Farmers Insurance Exchange and Mid Century Insurance Company have sued two California body shops and their owners, accusing them of taking part in a scheme designed to defraud Farmers and its policyholders. 

Mark Cantrell, co-owner and general manager of McLeod Autobody in Kirkland, Washington, recommends that shop owners look for ways to save their employees just three-tenths of an hour each day. 

Give some thoughtful people who are knowledgeable about the collision repair industry a chance to shine up a crystal ball and look into the future, and you're likely to hear some interesting things. 

During the 1980s and 1990s, association and seminar leaders frequently pointed to changes in vehicle technology that were putting a dent in the collision repair market. Daytime running lights, the third brake light and anti-lock braking systems (if drivers used them properly), they'd say, were among the key factors pulling accident frequency down. 

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company will replace existing Select Service and Service First® programs in designated market with its newly revamped Select Service program, recently tested in markets in California, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. Select Service, an auto damage repair program currently in a limited number of locations, was introduced by State Farm in 2001. 

U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate negotiators agreed to renew the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act (S.250) for another six years. Despite President George W. Bush's proposal to leave the program unfunded in his next two fiscal year budget proposals, House and Senate conferees agreed to renew the Perkins Act. 

The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs has been holding hearings to discuss legislation introduced by Senators Tim Johnson (D-S.D), and John Sununu (R-N.H). The legislation could impact who regulates the insurance industry, which is currently controlled by the states. 

One of the ways some shops are coping with what they are finding is decreasing profits in collision repair work is adding services beyond body work: mechanical work, detailing, and spray-on bed liners. 

Thursday, 31 August 2006 17:00

OSHA issues final rule on APFs

New Assigned Protection Factors (APFs) for respiratory protection programs are being incorporated into the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) respiratory protection standard. 

Rod Enlow joked that in mid-2005 as he became chairman of I-CAR's board of directors, it looked like it was going to be a fairly smooth and calm year for the training organization. The destructive forces of hurricanes Katrina and Rita turned out to be just one of the issues that ended up buffeting I-CAR during what Enlow now calls a challenging but successful year. 

Two northern California body shops have stepped up to the plate in an effort to stop illegal steering in the state. Competitors G&C Autobody and Dibble's Autobody have joined together in a lawsuit against GEICO (defendant) for steering customers away from their shops and not conducting the proper labor rate surveys to establish reasonable hourly rates. 

It's an altogether too common story in the auto body world - a $5,100 difference of opinion between the shop owner and the insurance company on how to properly repair a vehicle which led to an epic, one- year battle. 

The California Department of Insurance (DOI) has taken the first steps toward eliminating a long-standing thorn in the side of the collision industry - capping paint costs. In late August, the DOI held a workshop, chaired by staff members Deputy Insurance Commissioner Woody Girion and Tony Cignarale to discuss capping paint costs by insurance companies. 

State Farm's new Select Service DRP program, industry anti-fraud measures and estimating issues highlighted the discussion at the Collision Industry Conference, held in August at San Jose, California. CIC was held in conjunction with I-CAR's annual international conference - Getting Revved Up For Training. A power packed agenda filled the day for over 200 attendees. 

Owners and employees of various auto body shops in Shasta and Butte counties were allegedly involved in fraudulent insurance claims - with loss estimates ranging from $2,000 - $4,386 in 19 separate occurrences. 

A lawsuit brought against a body shop in San Francisco by a distributor of DuPont and Spies Hecker paints sheds some interesting light on current practices in the automotive paint distribution business. It may also serve as a warning to body shop owners that if you have a contract to buy paint from a particular jobber, think twice before you break that contract. 

Saturday, 30 September 2006 17:00

CRA has an attack dog mentality

The newly-formed Collision Repair Association of California (CRA) has already achieved one major victory by directly challenging GEICO Insurance on their practice of paint and materials capping. CRA forced officials to enforce the law that makes it illegal to set an arbitrary limit like paint capping. With this decisive win behind them, CRA has proven that this will be an organization to contend with. 

Hundreds of thousands of San Diego drivers will see their auto insurance premiums drop pending approval of the latest insurer filings with the California Department of Insurance (DOI). 

The United States House of Representatives is taking a crucial step to make America' s roadways safer by ensuring valuable information is easily accessible to consumers. Representative Cliff Stearns (R-FL) along with Representative Charles Bass (R-NH), introduced the Damaged Vehicle Information Act (H.R.6093) in September. 

Saturday, 30 September 2006 17:00

CIC and I-CAR: Summer industry meetings

If you didn't attend the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) and I-CAR annual meeting, both held in San Jose, California, in August, you may have missed out on some useful news and information shared at the meetings. 

Alleging their vehicles' emissions have contributed significantly to global warming, harmed the resources, infrastructure and environmental health of California, and cost the state millions of dollars to address current and future effects, attorney general Bill Lockyer filed a lawsuit against leading U.S. and Japanese auto manufacturers. 

Tuesday, 31 October 2006 17:00

CRA challenges BAR over Progressive license

It has been several months since Progressive Insurance opened its first Concierge location in the San Diego area without registering with the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR). On May 11, the BAR determined - based upon an on-site visit - that the Progressive Service Center, in fact, met the requirements of an Auto Repair Dealer (ARD) and must register with the BAR. (Autobody News, July 2006)

Tuesday, 31 October 2006 17:00

OSHA renews alliance with CCAR

OSHA Administrator Ed Foulke signed a two-year Alliance renewal between the agency and the Coordinating Committee for Automotive Repair (CCAR). 

Tuesday, 31 October 2006 17:00

Open letter to industry from NASTF

 

Charlie Gorman, chairman of the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF) has issued an open letter to colleagues in the collision repair industry to tout NASTF's recent accomplishments and goals for the future.
 

Tuesday, 31 October 2006 17:00

Nevada group spearheads CC tech center

The Nevada Collision Industry Association (NCIA) received kudos for its leadership role in making the Automotive Technology Center at the Community College of Southern Nevada a reality.

Tuesday, 31 October 2006 17:00

Proposed regs require standard ESC

A new proposal to require auto manufacturers to install electronic stability control (ESC) as a standard feature on all new passenger vehicles has the potential to save more than 10,000 lives every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 

Tuesday, 31 October 2006 17:00

BAR regs define scope of labor rate surveys

New BAR regulations have reduced the importance of labor rate surveys, relegating them to little more than resource documents and preventing insurers from using them to artificially set the rate they will pay. The new regulations were hammered out after the California Department of Insurance held two days of hearings in an effort to define the parameters of auto body repair labor rate surveys conducted by the insurance companies. 

OEConnection LLC, a leader in ecommerce parts exchange and analysis solutions for the automotive original equipment replacement parts business, recently inked a marketing partnership with Ford Motor Company and General Motors for the national deployment of CollisionLink, OEConnection's technology for the fast, accurate online fulfillment of original equipment replacement parts to collision shops. 

U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif) has introduced The National Insurance Act of 2006. If passed, H.R. 6225 will provide an "optional federal charter" to insurers of life, property and casualty insurance, allowing insurers to choose between federal and state charters. 

Tuesday, 31 October 2006 17:00

Class-action suit against Farmers winding up

A class-action lawsuit against Farmers Group for the use of non-OEM parts in nine states, including California, Arizona and Texas, has been playing out quietly in Orange County (California) Superior Court over the past several months. The case, Lebrilla v. Farmers Group, is five years old and the "class" or group of affected people may include 700,000 Farmer's customers in nine states who have had their cars repaired since 1996. 

Tuesday, 31 October 2006 17:00

EZ Lube shops under investigation by BAR

Disciplinary action that may result in the suspension or revocation of the Automotive Repair Dealer (ARD) registrations of 76 Southern California EZ Lube auto repair shops, by the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR). This marks the largest BAR investigation in recent history against an independently-owned automotive repair corporation. 

Tuesday, 31 October 2006 17:00

New manifest form required

As of September, 2006, all hazardous waste generators and treatment, storage, and disposal facilities must use EPA's standardized hazardous waste manifest form. 

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has named Jeff Rose as Deputy First As-sistant Attorney General. Rose has served as Chief of the Civil General Litigation Division at the Office of the Attorney General since 2003, handling some of the state's highest profile civil litigation matters, ranging from school finance to health care administration. 

In March 2006, the U.S. District Court, Northed repair shop law, HB 1131, constitutional. Allstate filed a notice of appeal with theern District of Texas, found the Texas law prohibiting insurer-own U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, in April 2006.
Hank Tarter jokes that if you're going to have a heart attack, the place to be is Keizer, Oregon, a community of 35,000 residents just north of Oregon's capitol city of Salem.
Tuesday, 31 October 2006 17:00

Sherry Mehl named new BAR chief

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has finally filled the position of chief at the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR). Sherry Mehl, 57, of Sacramento, has been appointed chief of the BAR. 

Collision shop owners are being urged to contact their U.S. representatives asking that they co-sponsor H.R. 6093, the Damaged Vehicle Information Act.  

Tuesday, 31 October 2006 17:00

CAA helps consumers learn their rights

The California Autobody Association (CAA) has formed a new committee called the Collision Rights For Consumers committee. This committee will work closely with consumer groups to address some of the common issues that are affecting both the collision shops and the rights of the consumer.

The recent change from Mitchell to Audatex estimating systems by the American Family Insurance Customer Repair Program (CRP) has caused a ground swell of questions, accusations and opposition. 

Tuesday, 31 October 2006 17:00

Allstates proposed open platform benefits

Allstate will explore a new, more flexible estimating, communication and reporting platform for its PRO program. When complete, Allstate believes this work and the "open platform" concept will be well received by consumers, repair facilities and the industry. Allstate expects the exploration phase to continue through mid-2007 at which time testing is expected to begin.

Akzo Nobel has been advised by I-CAR that fifteen of its technical and business development classes have been approved under the 2006 re-certification criteria to receive Gold Class points through the I-CAR Training Alliance program effective November 1, 2006. 

Tuesday, 31 October 2006 17:00

Akzo Nobel and CIAI present 2006 endowments

Fall 2006 endowment recipients have been chosen by Akzo Nobel, along with the Advisory Council of the Collision Industry Advancement Initiative (CIAI). This is the fifth set of endowments since the program was established in 2004. This year's recipients are Contra Costa Community College, Northern Virginia Community College, and Skills Canada Student Competition. 

Tuesday, 31 October 2006 17:00

ADESA acquires 3 Texas salvage auctions

ADESA Impact, a unit of ADESA's Auction Services Group, has acquired three independent salvage auctions in the state of Texas, according to ADESA, Inc. (NYSE: KAR), provider of wholesale vehicle auctions and used vehicle dealer floorplan financing.

Four suspects have been arrested in a staged auto collision ring that allegedly caused more than 100 collisions in the Bay Area resulting in more than $2 million in losses to insurers, according to Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi.