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SCRS surveys insurers on permitted use of parts

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Aug. 3, 2011 – Addressing concerns from body shop owners about varying approaches that exist in auto insurance policies and claims settlement practices, the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) has distributed a survey to 13 different auto insurance carriers.

The surveys are meant to identify and clarify insurance company policy on the use of aftermarket replacement parts (certified and non-certified.)

“It’s to gain a better understanding of the insurers’ policies on aftermarket part usage,” said SCRS Executive Director Aaron Schulenburg. "Aftermarket parts have always been a topical discussion in the industry, but the increase in focus has really stemmed from increased scrutiny of structural and safety-related aftermarket replacement parts. Much of these discussions have taken place in the media and at industry forums such as CIC. "

He said the creation of new certification bodies, and new certification programs within existing bodies, and the testing that accompanies those programs has also drawn further attention to the technical side of whether or not the parts adequately perform the same functionality as the parts they are replacing.

"Collision repairers are increasingly more aware of their liability exposure, and some are concerned that they may increase their vulnerability by using parts that may not be comparable in material or design," he said.

He also said there has been some discrepancy between policy and practice. A shop may understand a carriers practice to be one thing, but has field staff appraisers advising that they will only cover something else.

"Some carriers came out last year and specifically commented that they would no longer use structural replacement parts such as bumper reinforcement, core supports, brackets, etc. Many months later, we are starting to get reports that these items may be showing up on estimates," he said. "So the question becomes, did the previously stated policy change, or has the practice in the field begun to deviate from the policy? Either way, clear-cut explanations of what a repair facility and vehicle owner can expect are beneficial to the process.'

The survey was distributed July 26 and Schulenburg stated that once SCRS receives responses to the survey the organization will communicate them to the collision repair industry in the hopes that the open documentation of parts replacement policies fosters a better understanding of the process. Surveys are due Aug. 19.

Surveys are available in digital survey format here. A PDF copy is available as well by contacting SCRS. Participants can respond directly to the digital survey or email a document with their response to the SCRS office at info@scrs.com.

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