The Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) announced that the Choice Autobody Repair Association (CARA) is its 39th affiliate association.
CARA is an Ohio-based group of repairers with members in an increasing number of other states. It maintains an unwavering focus on vehicle owner rights, with an emphasis on consumer awareness. When CARA wanted to add a national component to their system of connections, they turned to SCRS.
"Too often vehicle owners don't know the extent of the protections they have under the law," said CARA President Rick Finney. "And they don't have a clear understanding of the repair process and what their options are during that process. Our goal is to provide owners the information they need to make decisions in their best interests, for example, that they have the power to choose where their repair work is to be done."
The issue of shop selection was the driving force behind CARA's formation and the reason "Choice" is part of the association's name. Ohio-area repairers were finding, with increasing frequency, that their long-standing customers were suddenly hesitant to bring work to them.
"The consumer was being told they had no choice in where to take their vehicle when it just wasn't the case," said Finney. "It was an alarming trend, and we thought we could counteract it by making the right kind of information available to the policy holder."
CARA uses a variety of tools to educate vehicle owners: consumer awareness pamphlets, informational videos ("commercials") and a Web site filled with useful facts. In addition to shop selection, topics include the potential impact of aftermarket/recycled parts use, how to read an insurance policy, and what to look for in a collision repair facility. The association is also beginning to get active on the legislative front, and continually challenges the Ohio insurance commissioner and attorney general to fulfill their consumer protection functions.
"CARA promotes and spreads consumer rights by forging relationships with collision repair associations, insurance agents, vendor suppliers, and other relevant parties," says SCRS Chairman Barry Dorn. "Their approach has certainly created a kind of extended communications network to help spread their message about consumer rights and to compile important information about those rights that can be distributed back through the network."