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Fighting back against case-by-case basis injustices

Tuesday, September 19, 2017 - 07:00
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As football season has kicked off, I am going to borrow the phrase, “C’mon, man!” from the ESPN segment of groan-inducing game highlights, as it seems appropriate with what happened with a recent insurer claim.

We repaired a 2012 Cadillac SRX that needed a front bumper, upper and lower grille, left headlamp, left fog lamp and repair on the radiator support. The left object detection sensor was knocked out of the hole, but not damaged. The first adjustor did not put a scan on the vehicle, which was not expected, because this insurer has never paid for a scan on the initial estimate. We scanned the vehicle per the GM position statement: “General Motors take the position that all vehicles being assessed for collision damage repairs must be tested for Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) during the repair estimation to identify the required repairs. Additionally, the vehicle must be retested after all repairs are complete in order to verify that the faults have been repaired and new faults have not been introduced during the course of repairs.” The next paragraph in the position statement states, “Even minor body damage or glass replacement may result in damage to one or more safety-related systems on the vehicle. Any action that results in loss of battery-supplied voltage and disconnection of electrical circuits requires that the vehicle is subsequently tested to ensure proper electrical function.” 

These are the specifications by the manufacturer. This must be done because of all the issues that can be wrong with the vehicle. This is not a recommendation — it states “all vehicles must…” I sent this in for a supplement and the insurer sent their appraiser — the same one who worked the initial estimate — out to review. He told me the insurer would not pay for the scan since it was not part of the repair procedures. Despite my contention that the GM position statement is a repair procedure or better, he still refused the supplement.

Fast-forward to the following week where I called the insurer claims department again. Claims refused to touch this because they said that the adjustor had already made his decision. After the issue was escalated to the local manager in my area, he also didn’t see a need for a scan. Because the key was cycled on, the insurer shouldn’t be responsible for the scan and it wasn’t a part of the repair procedure, he explained. One way to avoid this would have been to dolly the vehicle to move around the shop. C’mon man, seriously?

He assured me that he would research the issue further and get back to me. A few days went by and I received a call from another manager wanting to know what had happened. I told the same story again, yet finally this manager understood and said this was a “no brainer.” The scan got paid after a month of action.

As collision repairers, we must bring these vehicles back to pre-existing condition. This means that scanning is a way a life now and forever. Insurance companies can tell me that we are taking scanning on a case-by-case basis and that is OK, but when you have a case like this one — that is a “no brainer” — it should be paid. The customer should not have to fight to get what they are entitled by their insurance company. Notice that I said customer should not have to fight. The insurance contract binds the insurance company to make the customer whole. Scanning is an integral part of this before the repairs begin and after the repairs are completed.

As an industry, our mutual goal should always be a complete and safe repair. Unfortunately, the memo has not gone out to our industry like it should, and that goes for insurance companies and shops alike. C’mon insurers, get with the program. I don’t mind things being on a case-by-case basis, but get real with this policy.

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