Industry Organizations Express Confusion Over I-CAR Repair Standards Decision

April 16, 2013

April 16, 2013—In response to I-CAR declining to facilitate and maintain a database of published OEM technical repair procedures in support of an industry repair standards effort, the requesting organizations have expressed confusion over I-CAR’s position, according to a letter signed by the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers (AASP), Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) and Assured Performance Network (APN).

After announcing a multiple-step plan in July 2012 to facilitate a centralized database of published OEM technical repair procedures, I-CAR announced in March that it would not move forward with the initiative, citing the need to represent the best interests of the industry in a neutral manner and the potential difficulties in constructing and managing the requested “Council."

In a statement last month, I-CAR said that although it points to OEM procedures as the industry’s baseline for repairs, there are opportunities to define recommended repair processes that would support or supplement OEM procedures given the span of possible repairs, consumer interests and insurer interests, while maintaining a commitment to complete safe repairs.

"We appreciate the thorough deliberation made by the I-CAR board of directors in regard to the request made by our organizations in November of 2011," the AASP, SCRS and APN said in a joint letter. "We accept that the current I-CAR board of directors believe that the coordination of a collaborative council to address procedural standards of repair could conflict with I-CAR’s interests in neutrality to various industry segments, and because of this, acknowledge that the facilitation of the council may be best left to collision repair organizations."

However, the AASP, SCRS and APN said several statements made by I-CAR were confusing and have raised questions for the organizations and their members. The organizations said I-CAR's statements implied that acceptance of the joint request could create the "possible perception that I-CAR may be catering to the interests of particular sub-segments, to the possible disadvantage of others."

The organizations said this suggests that I-CAR believes that not all industry segments support using OEM repair procedures as a standard of repair. The AASP, SCRS and APN have asked I-CAR to clarify its position regarding industry standards of repair, including what other types of repair procedures are utilized in the development of the industry’s training curriculum.

The AASP, SCRS and APN's joint letter also said the following:

"In a 2005 executive summary, I-CAR stated 'the repair procedures that have been developed by I-CAR or car manufacturers are considered to be the standards for the collision repair industry. If your technicians learn them, and apply them properly, the weight and stature of those standards will serve as a strong piece of evidence in your defense against a lawsuit. On the other hand, a shop owner whose technicians perform a safety-related repair which does not meet these standards may end up having the standards used against him. The plaintiff's lawyer would almost certainly introduce these standards into evidence to show that the work was performed in a manner inferior to the current state-of-the-art in the industry.' [I-CAR's] position, stated in 2005, is fundamental to the collision repairers performing these repair procedures on a daily basis, and is a critical foundation of the support I-CAR enjoys from various entities and stakeholders across the industry."

The AASP, SCRS and APN have asked I-CAR's board of directors whether it still recognizes OEM published repair procedures as the industry’s standard of repair, as it did in 2005. In addition, the associations asked I-CAR whether it is "prepared to publicly assume the liability associated with the use and recognition of these non-OEM technical repair procedures" if the organization intends to pursue opportunities to supplement OEM procedures.

The AASP, SCRS and APN's joint letter to I-CAR has been endorsed by more than 30 other industry associations. I-CAR was not immediately available for comment.