Documenting scan procedures is key to receiving equitable insurer payments

Dec. 19, 2017
The problem insurers have is the documentation repairers provide for the scans, not the scans themselves. As I reviewed estimates, I saw very little documentation about the scans or the results.

According to position statements from the majority of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), vehicles involved in a collision must be tested for diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs). No argument, it has to be done!

The challenge within the industry focuses on the discussions repairers have with insurers about payment. As I have investigated this challenge, I found the problem insurers have is the documentation repairers provide for the scans, not the scans themselves. As I reviewed estimates, I saw very little documentation about the scans or the results.

Let’s look at the scan procedures. Currently, repairers are identifying two on their estimates – Pre-Scan and Post-Scan. With the changes in vehicle systems there actually are four different scan procedures. 1.Pre-Scan; a scan accomplished to identify any DTCs or fault codes. 2. Diagnostic Scan; a thorough review of the faults detected in the Pre-Scan. 3. Calibration Scan; a reset or reinitialization of vehicle control systems and 4. Post-Scan; a system check to validate OEM settings and restore customer confidence in the repair.

What I have seen on estimates is Pre-Scan and Post-Scan with the shop asking for 1.0 to 2.0 hours for the process without any line notes or explanation. That, my friends, is the problem. The result from the scan needs to be used as justification in your documentation. After coaching customers on scan documentation, here are my recommendations for processes I have worked on with my shops that are satisfying insurers.

Pre-Scan. Performed as a first step in the repair plan. The first line of the repair plan should say: “Performed Pre-Scan as required by OEM bulletin dated Oct 2016.”  Then there should either be a sublet charge or a labor amount equaling the time required to complete the scan. Calculate your time based on a tenth being six minutes, or you can round it off to five to simplify the calculations. If it took you 20 minutes, I would select .4 as the billed time for the pre-scan. In the line note paste the wording from the OE position statement that requires the scan, in most cases it is the first paragraph.

Next include what you found in the notes. For example, Steering Wheel Angle Sensor Module: U0121 00 Lost Communication with Electronic Brake Control Module, Power Steering Control Module: U0415 00 Invalid Data Received from Electronic Brake Control Module: U0126 00 Lost Communication with Steering Wheel Angle Sensor Module. If you just cleared codes indicate, “Performed a full vehicle scan clearing all faults, 0 faults returned, established base line.” Using either of those results will justify you receiving payment for the scan. Secondary to this procedure, you should add a line under electrical or battery to test or charge the battery as most scan processes require a fully charged battery.

Diagnostic Scan. For this procedure, you will enter a line on the repair plan within the vehicle system with the fault. Using the first example given in Pre-Scan, you will create a line under the Steering heading “Diagnose Steering Wheel Angle Sensor Module – Fault code U0121.” Using the OEM repair procedure, identify the process for correcting the system fault. This allows you to document the process as well as determine the amount of time to be billed on your repair plan. To completely document the procedure, itemize the steps needed to correct the fault in the estimate line notes. Then follow this process for each of the faults identified during the Pre-Scan.

Calibration Scan. Once considered a Post-Scan, this step is actually part of the repair process for many systems. Several components in an automobile require calibrations or re-learns once they are replaced or disconnected. A review of the OEM repair procedures will give you the criteria for these calibrations and re-learns. Some components require multiple steps and special equipment, which is why a calibration scan now stands on its own. Following the process and documenting the steps required in the line notes will provide the justification for billed time. Like the diagnostic scan, each specific process should be placed within the category the fault occurred on the repair plan.

Post-Scan. As the last step of a repair include the words, “Performed Post-Scan to validate repairs and system functions,” on the last line of the repair plan. This step will clear out any remaining fault codes, allow you to reset minor systems and document your proof of due diligence in the repairs. Using the same criteria for time calculation as you did in pre-scan you can bill appropriately for the amount of time required to complete the scan. If during this process a code should not reset, you need to create a new line within the system affected to diagnose/correct the code through a recalibration or relearn process. As in the Pre-Scan, document your findings in a line note.

Breaking down the scan process just as you would any other repair procedure, providing documentation in line notes and charging realistically for the time needed to complete the scans will strengthen your position with insurers. Using the process I’ve described above will not only help satisfy the insurers but will decrease cycle time, reduce comebacks, improve CSI and lessen liability.

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About the Author

John Shoemaker

John Shoemaker is a business development manager for BASF North America Automotive Refinish Division and the former owner of JSE Consulting. He began his career in the automotive repair industry in 1973. He has been a technician, vehicle maintenance manager and management system analyst while serving in the U.S. Air Force. In the civilian sector he has managed several dealership collision centers, was a dealership service director and was a consultant to management system providers as an implementation specialist. John has completed I-CAR training and holds ASE certifications in estimating and repair. Connect with Shoemaker on LinkedIn.

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