Be Prepared

April 29, 2011
Chuck Sulkala, National Auto Body Council’s Executive Director, discusses disaster preparation with FenderBender’s Jake Weyer.

After Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast in 2005, the National Auto Body Council (NABC) was deluged with calls from distressed shop owners unprepared for such a catastrophe. In response, the NABC created the Collision Industry Relief program which coordinated efforts to help collision repair professional impacted by disasters. It was discontinued in September of 2006 after hurricanes Katrina, Wilma and Rita.

FenderBender recently spoke with Sulkala about disaster preparedness and some common missteps. Here are highlights from the interview:

What are some of the common mistakes shop owners make when it comes to disaster preparedness and insurance coverage?

Clearly the biggest common mistake is to think: “That won't happen to me.” And that starts the thinking and acting process of preparation off on a path that is not helpful. Most believe that the needed insurance is too costly and unnecessary which it always is—until the event happens and then obviously it is too late.

Do you have any advice for shops when it comes to disaster preparedness?

I think the best thing they can do is to imagine the worst and then look at dealing with that. From that point they simply need to decide if the reality or possibility is something they can deal with themselves or if they need to insure for it.

Have you found that most shop owners are prepared for such events?

Shops should be smart enough to have insurance to cover their needs. Techs also need to look into their shop’s insurance policy to see if it would cover their tools. If the tech's tools are gone, then they are out of business. That ends up with them leaving this industry and going into one where $30,000 of lifetime tools isn’t needed to get work.

The National Auto Body Council (NABC) asks "Are You Prepared?" in this brochure on how to prepare for disaster. (click to view or download PDF)

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