Running a Shop Operations Insurers+DRPs

Fixing the Marriage

Order Reprints
Fixing the Marriage
Mending the broken relationship between insurers and collision repairers.

For years, body shops and insurance companies have been involved in a rocky relationship. Sure, they both want to make their mutual customers happy. Sure, they both want to fix the car properly. Sure, they both want to make a reasonable profit.

Wait, both of them want the same thing… So, why does the relationship have to be so rough? Neither one of them should have to sleep on the couch.

The problem arises because body shops don’t think that their reasonable profit and the insurers reasonable profit can coexist. They are wrong.

Writing a fair and accurate repair order means the body shop is getting paid for everything they are doing and everything they are using. But how often does that fair and accurate repair order pass through the insurance company without any push back or questioning? “I found a three-quarter chunk from the salvage yard. You wrote all OEM. Make your changes and send it back so I can cut the check?” Sound familiar?

By writing an accurate and thorough repair order, body shops are processing the car through the building quickly. Their mutual customer is happy. As an insured, they’re thinking, “Wow, XYZ Insurance and ABC Body shop are great.” That leads to more people renewing their policies, and the insurer making their reasonable profit. As claimants, they’re thinking the same thing. They remember the last time they got in a wreck and had to drive all over town to get estimates. They may switch to XYZ now which would in turn help the insurance company make their profit.

One thing I think insurers miss today is that they EARN their money insuring cars. They SAVE money by partnering with a shop and getting repairs done. No DRP shops would be terrible for the insurance companies.

Body shops EARN their money repairing vehicles. They may SAVE money by partnering with an insurance company. How much time and money has been wasted dealing with a non-DRP or a smaller, little known insurance company buying this part here or that part there to attempt to appease someone until they can finally order that OEM cover from next door? How often have body shops had a customer screaming they want their rental paid because the car has been there for 12 days to swap a cover and a lamp but the independent adjuster hasn’t gotten back with them?  Body shops may make a decision to pay for a few days of rental to retain a customer. It’s not worth it to lose a customer over $90. As DRPs, body shops are empowered to make good decisions that are beneficial to both parties. They can avoid all those headaches and delays. Without DRPs the repair process would be long and arduous.

Body shops need to understand their insurance partners want and need happy customers that get timely repairs done at a fair price. As insurances companies, they need to understand that most body shops want happy customers, and need to make a reasonable profit for doing a quality repair.

Insurance companies are the professionals in their field, and body shops are the professionals in theirs. Body shops don’t attempt to help write policies or verify coverage, insurance companies shouldn’t attempt to dictate how a vehicle should be repaired.

Body shops need to be able to explain why a repair needs to be performed a certain way or cost a certain amount . If they as professionals feel the car needs a new quarter panel because it has a rolled hem flange instead of arguing with insurance partners the need to attach the procedure to the file. If they feel they need to R/I both doors to paint the uniside because it is a proper repair they need to accurately explain their thinking and attach a photo of the car in the spray booth. Body shops must understand most insurance companies want to pay them for what they do. They just don’t want to pay for something that is not needed or something the body shops are not doing. The nerve of them, right? What did Ronald Reagan like to say? “Doveryai, no proveryai” or Trust, but verify.

Body shops are equally as at fault in this relationship. For years shops have always tried to get over or get even. “No, I called and that LKQ door isn’t available, but the dealer has one I can have this afternoon.”  “They paid us for the alignment but it didn’t really need it.” “They wrote to replace the tail lamp pocket; but I can beat it around though. Just convert it to labor and give me three hours.” Don't act like you’ve never said or heard these things before.

Let’s work together to fix this marriage. Insurance companies, please remember body shops are in this for a profit, too. Body shops aren’t bad, they just think you want to save money. Body shops, remember adjusters and appraisers have a job to do. They need to justify what they’re approving to their bosses. If you need to replace the inner structure because it’s high strength steel, then by all means put it on your estimate. But, if you can do it without pulling the motor don’t add that to your sheet. The minute both sides let their guards down and start to be fair and realize each other’s needs and wants are the same the better off both parties will be.

I long for a world where a wrecked car comes in, both parties are fair with each other, and the customer is happy. Remember the love you both had for each other? Take the emotion out of it. After all, they’re just wrecked cars.

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