WILL 13 PROVE to be a lucky number for the collision repair industry? As 2013 begins, what can the industry expect over the next 12 months? Here's a look at 13 things the industry will likely see in the coming year.
1. I-CAR will help get more OEM repair procedures to shops. The training organization announced last summer that, as requested by a number of collision repair organizations, it will create processes to encourage automakers to document more collision repair procedures and work to make those OEM recommendations more widely accessible to the industry.
"In all of our coursework, we do recommend the industry follow OEM procedures, and we don't see that changing," I-CAR CEO John Van Alstyne said. "Our focus here is on enhancing the repair procedures that are out there for the industry and working with the industry and OEMs to accomplish that."
John Van Alstyne
I-CAR will serve as the "OEM linking pin," Van Alstyne said, to both communicate needs from the industry to the OEMs, and as a conduit of that OEM information in a variety of ways.
He said I-CAR intends to have the program up and running by this summer.
2. Greg Coccaro will get his day in court – and others may as well. It's been nearly six years since the owner of North State Custom in Bedford Hills, N.Y., filed suit against Progressive Insurance for tortuous business interference. As of press time, a January 28 court date had been set in the case, in which Coccaro alleges the insurer and one of its employees misrepresented North State's "workmanship, price, timeliness of service and character," resulting in more than $5 million in sales being steered away from the shop.
The suit moves forward after a New York appellate court last fall rejected Progressive's argument that the case should be dismissed because the state law on which North State based its case was designed to protect consumers rather than businesses. The court ruled that a business could sue under the law if the alleged claims impacted consumers at large. The court also held that the law does not require North State to identify specific consumers who were harmed.
The ruling opens the door to other suits against insurers by New York shops because, the court ruled, in general such suits brought by businesses "help to police the marketplace against misrepresentations, which constitute deception against the consumer and unfair competition with firms not engaging in such practices."