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Monday, 31 August 2020 17:41

AASP/NJ Tackles Photo Estimating, Insurer Conduct and More at First-Ever Virtual ‘Town Hall’

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Auto body professionals can use all the help they can get in the fight to receive fair reimbursement for safe and proper repairs.

With this in mind, the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey (AASP/NJ) set out to arm its members with necessary resources and knowledge via the association’s first-ever virtual “Town Hall” meeting Aug. 19.

 

AASP/NJ Executive Director Charles Bryant focused attendees’ attention on state regulations governing auto physical damage claims and unfair claim settlement practices, highlighting language that shop owners need to be aware of and understand in order to protect their rights as well as the rights of insured consumers.

 

Bryant explained that although insurers conducting business in New Jersey are supposed to follow these rules, the lack of a private right of action prevents lawsuits against carriers that violate them. This only leaves the option to make a complaint with the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance. However, the department will only act once it has received enough complaints to show a general business practice.

 

Bryant likened the ineffectiveness of this system to a police officer not being able to issue a ticket to someone for running a red light unless that person is caught doing so three times. Therefore, speaking out by way of filing a complaint to the department is key in bringing upon action that can lead to positive and more immediate change. Properly filing a complaint involves getting the customer to permit the shop to file on their behalf as a designated representative.

 

“If we want these regulations to work, you have to make the complaints. You have to stop what you are doing, take the time and write [them.]”

 

Addressing another concern in the Garden State, Bryant stressed it is reasonable for shops to charge insurers for time spent taking photos. Due to COVID-19, most insurers have refrained from sending appraisers to inspect vehicles in person. To ensure proper reimbursement, shops should ask insurers to sign an agreement up front letting them know they will charge for photo services. If the insurer refuses, then an appraiser must come out and inspect the vehicle.


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