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POLICE ISSUE WARNING ABOUT "CHASERS" AT ACCIDENT SCENES
November 30, 2007
A legal void has turned Hamilton into a lucrative hunting ground for unscrupulous "collision chasers" who sweet-talk shaken drivers into towing their vehicle.
What the victims don't know is that the chaser is often getting a commission from an autobody shop to tow it there, police said at a press conference yesterday. Sometimes the chaser auctions off his unsuspecting driver to the highest bidder. Sometimes the chaser is the repair shop itself.
Then, if owners want to take their car elsewhere, they can be stuck with a bill ranging into the thousands of dollars to get it out of the shop.
And there's nothing police can do about it, unless it directly interferes with an investigation.
"If you sign something, it's buyer beware," said Hamilton police Inspector Vince DeMascio. These chasers are not on the list of tow companies under contract with police, he said.
Chasing has become such a competitive business that rivals rush to get to the accident first.
"They go through traffic signs, over lawns, it doesn't matter. They need to get there first to talk to that customer," said Hamilton District Autobody Repair Association (HARA) executive director John Norris, and it's happening at virtually every collision downtown.
The chasers often pay "a $25 bird fee" to cab drivers, delivery fleets and bus drivers to pass on information by cellphone, he said. "HSR drivers would be included," Norris added.
Chasers now even lurk across the street from police stations waiting for collision victims to leave the independent collision reporting centres in the station lobbies.
Police and HARA say up to a dozen "collision vultures" are now operating, many coming from as far away as Toronto and Mississauga to feast in town because a city bylaw that outlawed solicitation at an accident site was quashed by a judge last year.
Here's how chasers work:
You end up in a fender-bender. Emotions are running high.
Suddenly, a stranger approaches.
"They can show up in a regular passenger car," Norris said. "They say to you, 'I work for a firm' or 'I can help.'"
They tell the driver they will take care of everything, he said. "Before you know it, your car is gone."
Chasers are getting a percentage back for the tow or the repair, and that means customers can end up with tow or storage bills in the thousands. If you choose to fix your car elsewhere, the unscrupulous shops will find a way to lard the bill.
Such as "$500 to move cars around, $300 to use the cellphone, $300 to take the groceries out of the trunk," Norris said. They will charge for unneeded dollies or winches, or for false waiting time at $75 an hour.
"Or it could be $600 for (them) being at the shop after 5 p.m., when they were only there for five minutes."
Another trick is to charge for arranging a rental vehicle.
"That's not giving a rental vehicle but (charging) $200 just to arrange the vehicle," Norris said. "The chaser wants to make as much money as he can and the shop that's doing the repair has to recover the money they've paid the chaser."
Insurance companies will not pay unreasonable bills, said Ron Barry of the Insurance Brokers Association of Hamilton.
Hamilton had a bylaw that restricted people from soliciting business within 200 metres of an accident, but in August last year, a judge ruled it was too broad in definition, potentially penalizing anyone doing business in the exclusion zone unrelated to the accident.
The judge even chastised the city for not following precise wording in the province's Highway Traffic Act that prohibits anyone from stopping, attempting to stop or approaching a vehicle for the purpose of offering any commodity or service to the driver or anyone else in that vehicle on a highway.
Police, HARA and the insurance brokers' association have produced a pamphlet guide to collision reporting and insurance claims.
Most of it is a form for jotting down important information at an accident scene, such as names and licence numbers. It even has a diagram to mark vehicle positions, street names, directions and traffic signs. It offers pointers on what to do at a collision scene such as offering aid to the injured.
The pamphlets are available at all police stations and collision reporting centres, as well as on the police website at www.hamiltonpolice.on.ca.
Courtesy of: Paul Morse
The Hamilton Spectator
Also available at: http://www.ciia.com/provinces/ontario/features.html
Partners Develop Pamphlet To Chase Away Accident-Chasers
November 29, 2007
The Insurance Brokers Association of Hamilton represented by Ron Barry (Bertram and Barry Insurance Ltd), The Hamilton District Autobody Repair Association and the Hamilton Police Service have partnered to produce an information pamphlet for drivers in the City of Hamilton.
The partners' goal is to provide drivers involved in motor vehicle collisions the necessary information to help them work through the stress of a collision.
At the time of a collision drivers can be very upset and for many, they have never been in the situation before. It is during this high-stress time that "Accident Chasers" offer services that may or may not be covered by their Insurance Company. It is therefore important to gather all the necessary information and not sign any contracts prior to speaking with their insurance company.
It is also important to get all the necessary information about the collision, particularly all the other drivers' information and the names of any witnesses.
The new pamphlet is a quick reference guide to assist the driving community. The pamphlets are available at Hamilton Police stations and, starting next week, at the Hamilton Police Community Policing Centres. The pamphlet can be downloaded from the Hamilton Police website at www.hamiltonpolice.on.ca.
CAREER DAY WAS A GREAT SUCCESS AT
Almost 3000 attending student
Toronto school wins a Lexus for their lab
With thirty education seminars, a tire-change competition and a chance for the school with the highest attending students to win a Lexus, courtesy of Toyota Canada, Motive Power Career Day at Automechanika Canada's inaugural trade show event in Toronto was a huge success, the largest motive power Career Day in Canada.
The school with the highest number of attending students was Bishop Marocco Catholic Secondary School from Toronto, with over 150 students attending. Randy Brown, the school's teacher, advises that the students at the school have examined the Toyota Canada donated Lexus and are eager to learn about the advanced electronics that this car comes with.
Thousands of students from across Ontario visited close to two hundred exhibit booths, training agencies, youth apprenticeship groups and community colleges in attendance, enabling them to ascertain the best route to become apprentices in the motive power trades.
Presentations by Buzz McKim, NASCAR historian, had full crowds of young people. Other valuable presentations included Skills Canada, CARS Council, www.apprenticesearch.com (with their race car), Castrol's special Solstice racer and the popular Centennial College live airbag detonations.
Diane Freeman, the representative for the Ontario based Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of Ontario (AARO), a NATA affiliate, advises that one booth exhibitor described the halls, teeming with students, as "organized bedlam".
Career Day was organized by the Hamilton District Autobody Repair Association (HARA), and Collision Industry Information and Assistance (ciia.com), affiliates of the National Automotive Trades Association (NATA).
NATA is a 59-year-old federally chartered 'association of associations' brought together to present a unified voice for the Canadian automotive trades industry.
For further information on Career Day, contact 1-866-309-4272 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
ROLY SIMPSON PASSES AWAY
November 20 - Toronto, ON - The auto claims economy has lost one of its most enthusiastic and senior members. Roly Simpson passed away peacefully on Sunday, November 11, 2007. Roly joined the TD Meloche Monnex Group Claims (TDMMG) department back in 1990 and held a series of increasingly more responsible positions leading up to a promotion as Manager, Appraisal Services in 2002. Roly retired on September 19, 2007.
Roly was an integral part of setting up and promoting TDMMG's preferred network of garages. He also played a lead role in representing the company on industry task forces, addressing various industry related issues.
Roly was a firm believer in giving the insurance industry more credibility. He recently wrote: "I am fully behind this initiative, towards ensuring that only properly trained and informative appraisers are making the decision as to repairing a consumers vehicle or totaling it. There is also the added value that when a vehicle is totaled the proper brand is applied we eliminating the chance of structurally unsafe vehicles being repaired and sold to an unsuspecting consumer and going back on the road." His active involvement in the industry went beyond simply appraising, as evidenced by activities such as his serving as the President, Canadian Association of Special Investigations
His many contributions over the years have been acknowledged by his winning such awards as the prestigious London Life award for outstanding excellence in 1993 and TDMMG's President Award in 2004.
Those of us, who knew Roly a little better, may recall that he loved classic and vintage vehicles and was an active member of the Durham Cruisers. Roly participated and helped organize many fund raisers, including car shows and cruises, the funds were used to benefit charities in the Durham region. Roly's car collection included several unique vehicles, most notably his 1961 modified Mack truck and his beautiful 1956 Ford Crown Victoria.
His enthusiasm and love for the collision-insurance industry, that he spent his life totally immersed in, sets the bar high, and will be a tough act to follow.
Roly will be sadly missed by family, friends and co-workers.
Roly was the dearly beloved husband of Caroline (nee Salmon) for 45 years. Loving father of Tammy (Randy), Tim (Aprile), Karen (Frank) and Nicole (Jay). Dear grandpa of Alysia, Cameron, Glenn, Katlyn, Kyle, Ian, Christopher, Connor, Zachary and Jayden. Sadly missed by his brother Wayne (Nancy).
As expressions of sympathy, memorial donations will be accepted in memory of Roly. Attach a note with your cheque stating you would like this donation to go to the R.S. McLaughlin Durham Regional Cancer Centre in memory of Roland J. Simpson.
The charitable foundation number is #11924 9126 RR0001
Make cheques payable to: The Oshawa Hospital Foundation
And mail it to: The Oshawa Hospital Foundation
The Gatehouse, 290 Simcoe Street North
Oshawa Ont. L1G 4T5
Information courtesy of Collision Repair magazine
I-CAR ANNOUNCES INDUSTRY-FOCUSED RE-ORGANIZATION
Tom McGee resigns as President
Hoffman Estates, IL - November 19, 2007 - I-CAR, the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair, and the I-CAR Foundation today announced a re-organization which will streamline operations bring increased focus and align resources around industry market segments and activities.
Following the announcement of Tom McGee's decision to step down from the role of President & CEO, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of I-CAR International, John Edelen, and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the I-CAR Education Foundation, Chris Evans, have announced, jointly, the re-organization of both I-CAR entities.
Education Foundation Chairman Chris Evans advises, "The re-focusing of the I-CAR Education Foundation on the philanthropic activities in support of inter-industry technical training and development is consistent with the intent of our founders. In addition, having the interests of the Education market fully represented in I-CAR International's content development and training delivery priorities and decisions will ensure that the efficient and effective servicing of the training needs of the Education segment will continue."
Earlier this year, the I-CAR Education Foundation's Board of Trustees approved a plan to re-focus the I?] CAR Foundation on fundraising, grant activity, and scholarships. As a consequence of this re-positioning, the Education segment, which has long been served by the Education Foundation, is migrating to I-CAR International.
In anticipation of the migration of the Education segment, I-CAR International has undertaken an evaluation of its organization and, as a result, is restructuring to provide more direct alignment and linkage to the industry segments that it serves.
"The rapidly increasing pace of change in vehicle design and manufacture has a direct impact on I-CAR," notes I-CAR Board Chairman John Edelen. "As vehicle design and materials drive new and more complex repair techniques and technologies, I-CAR needs to be better positioned to identify and address the training needs of the inter-industry that are associated with these developments. The inter-industry needs a more focused, forward-looking, nimble and responsive I-CAR."
"We would like to thank Tom McGee for agreeing to assume the position of Director of Industry Relations and Product Operations following his decision to step down from his role as President & CEO. Tom will bring focus and expertise to
industry relations at an industry leadership level. Tom will continue to build upon the excellent relationships he has forged with the associations, representatives, and thought-leaders in the auto collision inter-industry," states Edelen. "In addition, Tom is charged with a review of I-CAR's process of training content design and delivery, with the specific objectives of improving the "opportunity identification to product delivery' cycle-time, the quality of content, and the efficiency with which it is developed and produced."
Another key step in streamlining the organization and bringing product design closer to the marketplace that I-CAR serves is the creation of a Marketing and Distribution organization under the leadership of Director Joyce Kasmer. This area will include: Product Design and Product Marketing, Field Operations and Volunteer Relations, and Corporate Marketing. A key feature of this new organization is the creation of six Market Segment Teams, to ensure that within
I-CAR's operations the "voice of the customer" for the six industry segments - collision repair; vehicle insurance; vehicle manufacturing; tool, equipment and supply; education, training and related research; and, other related industry services - is sought and utilized to shape the direction of I-CAR's activities in the future. Consistent with this direction, former Education Foundation Executive Director Ron Ray will join the Marketing and Distribution organization, representing the interests of the education, training, and related research segment.
Internally, a number of functions will be centralized under Finance and Administration, to gain economies of scale and ensure optimal resource utilization. I-CAR's Controller, Mike Brey, will assume responsibility for the area of Finance and Administration.
Corporate Administration will continue to be the responsibility of Margaret Knell. Shirley Pincus will continue to be responsible for I-CAR's Human Resource Systems.
"These changes represent the recognition that I-CAR needs to re-position itself relative to the needs of the industry segments we serve, and to improve upon our ability to respond to industry concerns, needs, and opportunities," states I-CAR's Board Chairman John Edelen. "We are building on the strong foundation of I-CAR's technical expertise, and the great support from the inter-industry, our employees and volunteers. These changes are designed to improve the quality and relevance of our training and its delivery, and to enhance our abilities to support the training administration needs of the inter-industry, now and in the future."
Chairmen Evans and Edelen have advised that both the I-CAR Education Foundation Board of Trustees and I-CAR International Board of Directors have initiated a search process for chief staff executives for the newly re-structured
I-CAR organizations. In the interim, the Executive Committees of each organization will work closely with staff leadership and with the industry to ensure a successful migration to the new organizational structures. In the interim,
John Edelen, will be available on-site to assist staff during the transition.
For additional information, please contact director of Marketing, Joyce Kasmer at 800.422.7872, ext.246 or at email@example.com .
I-CAR ANNOUNCES NEW ROLE FOR TOM MCGEE
Hoffman Estates, IL - November 19, 2007 - Tom McGee has announced his decision to step down from his role as the President & CEO of I-CAR, the Inter-industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair, for personal reasons.
At the request of the Executive Committee of the I-CAR Board of Directors, Tom has agreed to remain with I-CAR, where he will serve as the Director of Industry Relations and Product Operations.
"I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve the I-CAR organization in many different capacities, most recently as President & CEO. While my personal situation has necessitated the need to step down from my current role, I am very pleased to have been provided by the I-CAR Executive Committee with the opportunity to remain with the organization in a capacity that I believe will allow me to continue to contribute to the organization and its future within the collision industry," stated Tom McGee.
"The I-CAR Board of Directors wants to acknowledge Tom's many contributions to I-CAR and to the inter-industry during his tenure as CEO," notes I-CAR Board Chairman John Edelen. "The organization and the industry have been fortunate to have Tom's talent and energy to call upon during some very challenging years. We are confident that Tom will continue to contribute to the success of I-CAR in this new role, for which he is uniquely suited."
For additional information, please contact director of Marketing, Joyce Kasmer at 800.422.7872, ext.246 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ING Canada Announces Collaboration With BASF Canada To Support Rely Auto Shop Partners
Friday, November 09, 2007 - Toronto
ING Canada announced today that it is collaborating with BASF Canada to support its Rely Network of preferred auto body shops in their efforts to reduce environmental emissions by promoting the use of waterborne auto paint.
"The main environmental challenge of body shops across the country is the reduction of their volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions associated with the use of solvent-based automobile paint. By promoting the conversion to waterborne paint technologies among our network of preferred vendors, we will help them reduce the environmental impact of their activities significantly and meet the requirements of proposed regulation currently under review by the federal government." says Larry Lythgoe, Vice President of Claims for ING Canada. "Through our Canada-wide collaboration with BASF, our Rely Network members will receive the product and technology support of the global market leader in waterborne systems for automotive refinish."
In addition to the environmental benefits associated with this initiative, consumers will also benefit from more accurate colour matching. Most car manufacturers have been using waterborne paint for over 10 years.
The ING Canada Rely Network is made up of approximately 500 preferred auto body repair shops across the country. In the last year, ING Canada's insurance affiliates helped over 100,000 of their clients repair their cars following a claim, spending in excess of $300 million in repair-related costs. More than half of these repairs were done through the ING Rely Network, which offers customers the additional benefits of a prompt, professional, and unconditionally guaranteed collision repair.
Within the next few months, ING will kick-off information and training programs throughout Canada.
Jeremy Cato Wins the Car Care Canada Award
For Car Safety Journalism
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario , November 2, 2007 - Car Care Canada is pleased to announce that Jeremy Cato is the winner of the 2007 Award for Car Safety Journalism. His article Recalls was the cover story of the Auto section of The Globe and Mail on November 16 th , 2006.
Katherine Power of Car Care Canada presented the award last night during the AJAC Awards Gala. "Jeremy's article was very informative. Vehicle recalls strike an automatic cord with the general public and this article clearly explained why they happened and how consumers can empower themselves with information. Resource links were also generously provided."
A panel of three judges read the submissions and were impressed with Jeremy's writing style and thorough explanation of the recall process and why they seem to be on the rise.
This is the third year for the Car Care Canada Award for Car Safety Journalism for the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) as part of the 24th Automotive Journalism Awards Competition. The Award was created to encourage the coverage of vehicle safety as an important component of overall vehicle maintenance. Articles related to all aspects of vehicle safety, from new technologies to vehicle maintenance were considered.
About Car Care Canada
Car Care Canada is a non-profit advocacy group that is the leading source for research, education and communication about the automotive aftermarket industry in Canada . For more than 15 years, Car Care Canada has been recognized for its credibility among consumer media, the motoring public and the industry. Car Care Canada is committed to building awareness and knowledge about the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to prepare consumers to make sensible and safe decisions about their vehicles. To learn more visit www.carcarecanada.ca .
The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) is an association of professional journalists, writers and photographers whose focus is the automobile and the automotive industry. The majority of the journalists test-drive, and report on, new vehicles on an on-going basis in various media across the country.
Automechanika Canada Announces New Show Dates
November 9, 2007
Automechanika Canada, the only tradeshow in Canada dedicated to all facets of the automotive market, will be held June 19-21, 2008 at the International Centre in Toronto.
Originally set to take place earlier in the week, show organizers evaluated feedback from the successful September 2007 show and found an overwelming number of attendees and exhibitors requesting the show be moved to a Thursday-Friday-Saturday format.
3M ENTERS INTO AGREEMENT WITH BOND0
3M announced today it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the business of Bondo Corp., a manufacturer of auto body repair products for the automotive aftermarket and various other professional and consumer applications.
Bondo ' s established brand complements 3M ' s well-known line of auto body repair products for the automotive aftermarket. Bondo brand products are designed for and widely recognized by both auto body repair professionals and enthusiasts. Products include body filler, fiberglass repair materials, under coatings, and adhesives. Bondo products are sold to the auto body professional market through auto body paint specialty stores in addition to mass merchandisers and auto parts retailers.
" The addition of Bondo enhances our professional and retail auto body product lines, " said Ian Hardgrove, vice president and general manager, 3M Automotive Aftermarket Division. " Together, 3M and Bondo will deliver a more complete product offering to auto body repair professionals, as well as auto enthusiasts and consumers around the world. "
3M ' s Automotive Aftermarket Division is dedicated to improving the productivity and profitability of auto body repair professionals. Products include abrasives and accessories, masking tapes, panel bonding adhesives, general adhesives coatings and sealers, paint finishing polishes and compounds, and paint application systems.
" 3M ' s global infrastructure, technology and product development expertise will further build and expand our well-known brands, " said Pat Formica, president, Bondo.
Complementary acquisitions such as this support 3M ' s growth strategy to strengthen its core businesses and deliver premier solutions to its customers around the world. Bondo employs approximately 160 people at its operations in Atlanta, Ga. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter, subject to customary closing conditions.
FOX Collision Center's Letter to the Industry:
We "Step Down" in Order to "Step-Up"
My name is Todd Fox. I am 43 years old and the president of FOX Collision Centers, Inc. I operate 18 auto collision repair facilities and satellites that serve a four state area. Our annual sales top $28 million. I have been in the collision repair business since I was barely eleven years old, when I swept floors in my parents' body shop. I witnessed the "Cowboy and Indian Days" when body shop owners and insurance personnel were adversarial, rude, and, at times, eager to cheat each other out of anything and everything.
In 1989, I purchased my parents' body shop in Wichita Kansas. As an eager and hardworking young man, I expanded the body shop from 12,000 square feet to 22,000 square feet in less than a year. At the same time, I observed with interest the emergence of Direct Repair Programs (DRPs). Collision repair shop owners and insurance companies joined forces to create DRPs to serve our mutual customers, while honoring the belief that both collision repair operators and insurance carriers should make a fair profit. Though everyone was skeptical of DRPs, they proved to be just as the insurers advertised (at least in the beginning). They claimed, "We want quality work, and happy mutual customers at a fair price.NO CONCESSIONS!"
It was under these conditions that I opened my second shop. And, for the past 16 years, I have awakened each morning at 4:30 a.m., without an alarm clock, excited to go to work, build my business, and live the American dream. I am proud of the businesses my team and I have built since 1991. Very proud!
But, during the last two years, I have seen my dream turn into a nightmare. Insurance carriers have leveraged their economy of scale to implement concession-based DRP contracts, and forced collision repair businesses to offer the cheapest and quickest repair possible, many times sacrificing quality, safe repairs. Insurance carrier concession-based DRP contracts now list pages and pages of requirements that are imposed on us. And when I refer to concessions I don't mean only labor discounts, part discounts, paint caps, and zero mark-ups on sublet items, but also and more importantly, I refer to concessions on the quality, integrity, and safety of repairs. These contracts, which we used to call agreements, are far from agreements.
We, who repair the cars, have never agreed to do business like this. The contracts contain a list of their requirements, along with a few sentences telling us how we will be paid and when.
Many in our industry, at the time DRPs were conceived and implemented, alleged that they were going to be dire for the future of the collision repair industry. At the time, I believed that customers, state insurance departments, legislators, and the insurance carriers themselves would ensure that DRPs were never used as a tool to suppress the collision repair industry or steal our profits. Was I wrong!
We used to joke that someday a customer would drop a car off in a big parking lot and never know who repaired it or how well! Well, we all know that now happens routinely. I worry that soon a health insurance carrier will adopt this idea. A patient will check into a big building where an insurance representative administers anesthesia. Once the patient is unconscious, he or she will be transported to a surgeon (within a 45 minute radius) who has assured the insurance representative that he can get the patient in and out quickly. Very quickly! And even though the surgeon does not agree with how the insurance representative tells him to perform the low cost operation, he does exactly what he is told to do. The last thing the surgeon wants to risk is to anger the insurance representative and have his business reduced or eliminated. The surgeon assures the insurance representative that he will complete the operation quickly and cheaply. The surgeon knows the operation must look cosmetically good from the outside! The inside? Well, who's to say if it's cheaply and poorly done? The patient won't know.at least not right away.
Under the new DRP system, the focus is on cycle time (how fast we get the vehicle in and out), severity (how cheaply we complete the repair), and customer satisfaction (fast repair time and cosmetic good looks). How much time is spent on evaluating and ensuring the integrity and safety of the repair? And those repair shops that try to ensure that everything has been done to make the car safe for the protection of the customer and their families that trust them, get frowns and disapproval from the insurance carriers' auditors when costs and repair times increase. How many concession-based DRP repair programs make sure that frame rails and structural components are sectioned and replaced properly; ensure that air bag sensors are all replaced per the vehicle manufacturer? How many DRP repair programs encourage and check that seatbelts are replaced according to the vehicle manufacturer?
The insurance carriers are careful to say that these concerns are up to the body shop. But how many of us have heard, "All I can say is the other shops that are doing the best on our program (the DRP program) do not replace all those air bag sensors and wait the extra time to order the seat belts. Are you sure you need to do all that?"
The implied criticism is that you are doing repairs that are too costly and take too much time. Sometimes the criticism is not implied, but blatantly stated. For example, how much time does your DRP auditor spend making sure vehicles are repaired correctly and safely? When I asked about that, I actually had a DRP auditor tell me that we needed to ease up on our quality control efforts because it was impacting our "Cycle Time Measurement." He went on to say that, "Quality is not one of the key DRP measures in ranking or monitoring the shops." And, therein is the problem!
For the most part, this is exactly what has happened in our industry, although several insurance carriers are still operating DRP programs that do not ask for concessions and use their DRP program to benefit the customers. To these carriers I say "Thank you" and hope they will continue to demand integrity, ensure safe repairs, and show mutual respect for auto repair business operators in their DRP programs.
Today more than ever we see insurance carriers use DRP programs to cut costs by requiring an incredible amount of administrative requirements be met, while greatly reducing or even eliminating the focus on correct and safe repairs. Safety concerns have been replaced with rules about cycle time and reduced severity. (Many new DRP auditors have never heard of the "Kink vs. Bend Rule.") Insurer concession-based DRPs have reduced their severity in the area of refinishing alone by millions of dollars by mandating spot refinish, blending urethane coatings inside panels, and applying paint caps. This is without regard for the quality and cost of the required refinishing.
It has been my experience that most collision repair operators will make a correct and safe repair even when not paid to do so, because this is the right thing to do. We do it, but at the expense of an already very narrow or negative profit margin!
Eighteen months ago, although discouraged by the evolution of the modern day, concession-based DRP, I was determined to overcome the costs of the added administrative requirements and still ensure safe repairs. Even with the complexity of all the various versions of DRP requirements, I established what we call the FOX Command Center. To this day I am very proud of this centralized unit that monitors and administratively processes every step of each auto repair.
The FOX Command Center is located at our head office in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It leverages technology to solve the issues that challenge every shop on a DRP. The Command Center instantly improves our key measures in all DRPs. In addition, it allows me personally to spend more time at home with my family, instead of on the road.
As you might imagine, it is a considerable expense to implement, and since profit margins are way down, the only way to make them up is in volume. Therefore, we brought in additional volume, but once we had it, many of the concession-based DRPs saw it as an opportunity to squeeze even more concessions and profits from us.
As I built FOX Collision Centers in central U.S., I developed relationships with senior managers of the DRPs in which we participated on both regional and national levels. My hope was that these relationships would allow me to have a voice and make mutual decisions with insurance carriers that would benefit everyone.
Ultimately, however, this has caused trouble locally. A local insurer's management resented my relationships at a higher level. Retaliation, by local insurance personnel, led to damage, due to lies and unethical business practice.
Fox Collision Centers historically have made money. Sometimes not much, but enough for me to still wake up excited at 4:30 a.m. every morning and go to work! But, the bottom line is that the business model that supports the new DRP models does NOT work financially. At the beginning of this year, with my regional group of shops operating on the lowest gross profit margins in our history, and the next evolution of DRP being implemented by the largest insurer in North America, I asked myself, "How can my group of shops survive in the years to come?" Unfortunately, the answer that became obvious was, "We cannot!"
Though ALL of our shops are busy with work and in good standing with all concession-based and non-concession-based DRP programs, I am sad to announce that today I will close all 18 of our locations. Hundreds of people will lose their jobs. I am so sorry, sad, and discouraged.
I have two young managers who, like me at their age, are anxious and excited to take on the world of auto collision repair, to grow, open new locations, and build a dream. I will work with them to help them build their businesses and counsel them not to make the same mistakes I made by giving into the pressures, false promises, and temptation of concessionbased, Direct Repairs' Programs that encourage fast, cheap, and unsafe repairs in exchange for business volume. I will counsel them to return to low overhead, maximization of profit, and participation in non concession-based DRPs with the few insurance carriers who understand it is unethical to minimize our profits to benefit their bottom lines. I will encourage them to work with insurance companies who really care about making vehicles safe for customers and their families after they have an accident!
I will make it my mission to inform the public, legislators, and state insurance departments about what is happening inside this industry. Surely we are killing the profitability of this industry by participating in the concession-based DRPs, but are we actually putting people's lives at risk as we fight futilely for survival by submitting to the concession-based DRPS demands for faster and cheaper repairs in exchange for more work volume? Very possibly, we are. How long can we live with that on our consciences?
Carstar says there is no one to blame. I disagree. We, who have blindly participated and not challenged the insurance companies, are to blame! We are like drug addicts, addicted to what we thought was going to be a good thing! Though it will be hard, we must "dry-out,"get "clean," and take a stand.
I call on fellow collision repair operators to recover and rehabilitate your businesses even if it means starting over! Watch for and participate in a new web site, www.BodyShopRehab.com coming soon.
Todd Fox, President
FOX Collision Centers, Inc.
P.S. A note to other industries that profit from selling to the collision repair industry. Many paint companies brag about increased profits directly resulting from raising their prices to the collision repairer. You, the paint companies, know we cannot pass these costs on to the Insurance Carriers. (Can you say "paint caps" and "spot paint"?)
When are you going to join us in standing up to the insurers that demand (excuse me, "strongly suggest") that we give concessions. There was a time when you told us and the insurance companies that you cannot blend clear-coat and then, all of a sudden, blending-clear showed up on the market. Who mandated or strongly suggested this? And, why did you give in?
To the OE manufacturers, why are you negotiating directly with insurance companies and giving discounts before the parts get to us or even your dealers? Who do you think this hurts? Once again the collision repairer!
COLLISION REPAIR SHOPS WARNED ABOUT "FEES FOR CREDITS"
Private companies will obtain shop credits for $500 or more
November 2, 2007
A number of collision repair facility owners are advising that they are being approached by a private firm with offers of obtaining for them the Apprenticeship Training Tax Credit (ATTC). For corporations and unincorporated businesses that have total salaries and wages for the previous taxation year of $400,000 or less, the tax credit is 30% of eligible expenditures paid or payable after May 18, 2004 up to a maximum tax credit of $5000 per qualifying apprentice per taxation year.
Although the forms are not difficult to fill out and are available through your local collision repair trade association or at : http://www.rev.gov.on.ca/english/bulletins/ct/3020.html , private firms are demanding $500 or 25% of the tax credit owing to shops to do the work.
Collision Industry Information and Assistance.com, a collision repair industry association group urges shops to handle the paperwork themselves.
These tax credits, for employers who employee apprentices in the collision repair, auto body or automotive painter trades are designed to encourage employers to hire and retain more apprentices
Information on a further credit, the Apprenticeship Incentive Grant to qualified employers is also available at: http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca /goc/apprenticeship.shtml or call
1 866 742 3644.
Further information on both incentives and grants is available at:http://www.ciia.com/provinces/ontario/training.html
A COLLISION REPAIR EVENING WITH BMW
Your Collision Repair Trade Association is pleased to host an informative evening with BMW's Collision Network Program Specialist, John Antonioni, sponsored by Performance BMW.
The evening will feature an update on new technologies; aluminum parts applications, information on some of the repair issues that shops have experienced and how new technologies will affect repairers. A question and answer period will follow.
Location: Motive Power Automotive Training Centre,
606 Rennie Street, Hamilton
QEW Niagara, Woodward Avenue Exit, one block North of Barton Street
Time: Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 6:00 p.m.
HARA and Affiliate Members No Charge
Non-Members $10.00 Per Person
Please contact 1-866-309-4272 to reserve your seat
OVER 1,000 CARS IMPOUNDED IN FIRST MONTH FOR SPEEDING
November 1, 2007
In just one month, more than 1,0000 (actually 1,057) motorists have been charged under tougher rules on street racing in Ontario. Many were surprised by the large number of offenders.
As of October 1, 2007, police had the legislative backing to charge anyone who was exceeding the speed limit by 50 km/hr or more, suspend their licenses, impound the vehicle (including rental vehicles) for a week and the courts could levy a fine of up to $10,000
OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino, was reportedly shocked, when he found out that so many drivers had been charged, with an average of 38 charged per day. It was reported that more than 80 percent have been male, and half were under the age of 27 years of age.
Monies gained from convictions would normally be allocated to the province, unless the charges came from municipal police forces, which accounted for about one-third of the charges. The municipality keeps those funds.
Solera Holdings, Inc. Is The First In Its Industry
To Be Accredited By IACET
Company and Its Subsidiaries Can Now Offer Continuing Education Units for Training Courses
SAN DIEGO , CA , October 31, 2007 - Solera Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SLH, "Solera"), a leading global provider of software and services for the automobile insurance claims processing industry, today announced that it is the first in its industry to become an Authorized Provider of Continuing Education Units (CEUs) from the International Association of Continuing Education and Training (IACET)-the highest standard available for any continuing education program in the U.S. As an IACET Authorized Provider, Solera and its subsidiaries, including Audatex in North America , can offer CEUs for designated Computer-Based Training courses, Virtual Training Classes and Instructor-led Training. These CEUs are accepted by many U.S. colleges and universities.
IACET is in the process of establishing global standards with the International Standards Organization (ISO). Once this is complete, educational institutions around the world will accept its CEUs. This will enable clients of Solera and its global subsidiaries, located in many of the 49 countries the Company serves, to receive college credit in return for meeting the requirements of Solera's CEU-designated training programs.
"We are extremely excited to be the first in our industry appointed as an IACET Authorized Provider," said Tracy Peterson, Senior Director, Education and Web Services at Audatex. "Our clients-who include automobile insurance companies, collision repair shops and automotive recyclers-have expressed interest in receiving CEUs for Audatex coursework. Now we can offer these CEUs and, at the same time, make their training experience even more valuable by letting them earn college credit while they learn about the latest Audatex technologies."
Effective October 2, Audatex offers CEUs for the following courses: Audatex Estimating Instructor-led Training, Audatex Estimating Virtual Training Class, Audatex Estimating Computer-Based Training, Shoplink Instructor-led Training, Shoplink Computer-Based Training and PenPro Instructor-led Training. Any student who has completed one or more of these courses since October 2 may request a certificate that displays their CEU credits by sending an email to email@example.com . After November 1, student transcripts and certificates will also be available at the Audatex Online Training Center : www.training.audatex.us .
NATA TAKES VISTA TO OTTAWA
The Vehicle Information and Service Tool Access (VISTA) proposal, an initiative by NATA, the National Automotive Trades Association to resolve the so-called Right to Repair issue was recently presented to the federal government. Rene Young, the national organization's mechanical division chair reports that a meeting held on October 1, 2007 with Industry Canada was very productive.
"NATA Executive VP Dale Finch, Director Victor Marciano and I met with Alison Tait, the Director General of Industry Canada's Automotive and Transportation Branch and three of her staff members. We found them to be well informed about the OEM information access problem, but were able to provide them with some insight about it they had not previously been exposed to," said Young.
The NATA delegation felt the meeting provided them with "a feel for Industry Canada's appetite for getting involved". No decisions were reached during the session, but it was agreed that more specific information concerning the service information access matter would be exchanged over the coming weeks.
"We explained to Ms. Tait that NATA and its affiliated associations seek a voluntary agreement with the OEMs, and all we are asking the government to do is help get the OEMs to the table so that we can present our VISTA proposal. We were left with the impression that Industry Canada would sooner support an industry-led solution than write legislation," observed Young. "Notwithstanding this, it would be premature for us to make any statements to that effect - let me just say we are optimistic," he added.
According to Young, following the delegation's return from Ottawa a letter was received from Honourable Jim Prentice, the Minister of Industry, accepting NATA's request for a meeting. The date and location for the meeting would be determined shortly, Mr. Prentice said in his letter.
Editor's Note: For more information on the VISTA initiative, and the accessibility of technical information from the various vehicle manufacturers, visit www.natacanada.ca
FOCUS ON CODE OF ETHICS
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 19, 2007- Nearly 40 members of the auto collision repair industry met today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., for the ACAR (Accountability for Collision Auto Repair) event.
The purpose of the event was to focus collision repairers on the one aspect of the claims handling process they can control: standards. ACAR participants began work on a Code of Ethics modeled after guidelines produced by attorney Erica Eversman, who moderated the event.
"The collision industry needs a Code of Ethics," said Eversman. "It will assist people in understanding who the real customer is and what they owe that customer.
"To have an industry that deals with people's safety with no Code of Ethics or pre-set technical repair standards is mind-boggling," continued Eversman. "You have to have governing principles. If you don't do this, then less-knowledgeable people will."
Although participants represented many different repair associations and industry segments, attendees unanimously agreed that the collision repair industry needs a code of ethics. ACAR meeting participants worked their way through Eversman's draft Code of Ethics, beginning with defining terms as basic as "collision repairer" and "collision repair facility" and drawing a distinction between a "consumer" and a "customer" (neither of which is the insurance company).
The draft Code makes allowances for an industry peer review board, which would self-regulate the industry. Meeting participants discussed qualifications for potential review board members, stressing that they should not only have years of experience, but should be up-to-date on the latest training, as well.
Eversman said she drafted the Code of Ethics specifically with consumer protection in mind. "The Code will make everyone aware of the conflict between insurance regulations and the consumer protection laws that you must follow," she said. "Many repairers are currently breaching consumer protection laws."
The draft Code says that collision repairers owe "a duty of professional care to the customer and shall act in the best interests of the customer in repair decisions and recommendations."
"I still hear repairers saying, 'The insurance company will take liability if I repair according to their estimate,'" said Eversman. "I cannot disabuse people enough of that idea."
Regarding the section of the draft Code that deals with damage analysis, Eversman said, "It is absolutely inappropriate for a repairer to underwrite an estimate just to get the vehicle in the shop. It's a safety issue. If the vehicle should be a total loss, and you underwrite to get it in your shop, that is wrong."
Meeting participants agreed that today's gathering was a start. Those in attendance will now look over the draft Code of Ethics individually or with their repair associations at home and submit comments.
A second meeting to discuss the draft Code has been tentatively scheduled for March 28, 2008, a Friday, to coincide with the Northeast Regional Autobody/Automotive Trade Show in Suffern, N.Y.
Meeting attendees also agreed that the draft Code may serve as a foundation for minimum industry standards from coast to coast, though individual states will be free to make additions to the Code as their situations dictate.
ACAR meeting participants hope that the draft Code of Ethics will, at last, permit the auto collision repair industry to speak with one voice.
KEYSTONE SHAREHOLDERS APPROVE LKQ MERGER
Stockholders of Keystone Automotive Industries, Inc. have approved a proposed merger with LKQ Acquisition Company, a subsidiary of LKQ Corporation.
At a special meeting held in Nashville, TN, more than 80% of the
votes cast supported the proposal.
The closing of the merger currently is anticipated to occur on Friday, October 12, 2007. As a result of the merger, Keystone will become a wholly owned subsidiary of LKQ Corporation, a supplier of recycled OEM parts and aftermarket collision replacement products.
Under the terms of the merger agreement, Keystone's stockholders will receive US$48 in cash, without interest, for each share of Keystone common stock that they own.
The merger will create North America's largest provider of recycled and aftermarket crash parts.
ACAR Event At National Press Club On October 19
WASHINGTON, DC, September 24, 2007 - Collision repair professionals from around the country are set to meet on October 19 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the National Press Club, 14th and F Streets in Northwest Washington, D.C., on the 13th floor to discuss a Code of Ethics for collision repair. The National Press Club is less than three blocks from the White House.
Be a part of history.
Come join the effort to elevate the industry, which will set the standards for repair and repairers, provide for peer review in disputes, and be a model for any legislative body that has an eye on regulating the collision repair community.
ACAR is about following car manufacturer recommendations for repair. Repairers are the professionals. The car manufacturers and the paint manufacturers establish the repair methods and procedures. Repair professionals follow the manufacturers' guidelines. When the manufacturers are silent about the repair methods, the repair professionals need a framework in which to operate: thus the Code of Ethics.
ACAR is a forum to work on the Code of Ethics with input from repairers. Ohio attorney Erica Eversman drafted the Code of Ethics. Feedback on the Code is encouraged.
ACAR is not about direct repair program contracts, nor is it about insurance company involvement within the industry, other than the insurance contract requiring the insurer to write a check for the repairs.
The insurance contract calls for insurers to pay for either the repair or the replacement of the property damage.
ACAR will focus on repairs and repairers, industry professionalism, and providing workmanlike repairs for the motoring public.
Space is still available to attend the ACAR meeting.
Send payment of $150 to Sheila's Information Network, 5303 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20015.
|Fact Sheet: "Right to Repair" Private Members Bill
Q. What is the "Right to Repair"?
A. All new vehicles are equipped with On-board diagnostics (OBD II) - they have computerized parts. In order to diagnose problems, repair or replace those parts, specialized electronic tools and update software is needed. Independent repair shops need the right to access the tools, training and software to repair and service today's vehicles. Many of the car manufacturers do not provide this access.
Q. Who is impacted?
A. Consumers! Without access to information, independent repair garages cannot adequately service the needs of their customers. This leaves consumers without a choice.
Q. Does this impact the Environment?
A. Yes! Fewer choices means longer wait times for repairs, longer distances to access repair facilities and some repairs that are left unchecked - all of which will have an impact on emissions.
Q. Does this impact road safety?
A. Yes! And for the same reasons it impacts the environment.
Q. Do other jurisdictions have legislation?
A. Yes! In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency mandates that emissions related diagnostic and repair information be made available at a fair and reasonable cost over the public internet.
Q. Is legislation necessary?
A. Yes! For a consistent, long term, made in Canada solution, a legislative approach is a prudent option.
Q. How does the Private Members Bill address the current access issues?
A. Mr. Masse's bill makes use of existing legislative tools by proposing changes to the Competition Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
Q. What are the proposed changes to the Competition Act?
A. The Competition Act is Canada's primary legislative tool to prevent unfair trading practices. Section 75 of the Act is referred to as the "refusal to deal" section, where remedies may be imposed on companies to sell a product that is required for another company to adequately conduct its business. The proposed amendment to the Competition Act is intended to provide greater clarity for Section 75 by ensuring that "information" is deemed a product.
Q. What are the proposed changes to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA)?
A. The proposed amendment would add a new section to the Act that clearly defines motor vehicles, motor vehicle owners and repair facilities. The amendment also adds a "Duty to disclose" feature that will compel the car companies to make information, tools and training available. It also ensures the information will be made available in a timely manor and at a reasonable cost.