Like many others in the auto body industry, I was interested in watching CNN’s special investigation of the auto insurance industry that aired on Anderson Cooper 360 on Feb. 11. It aired at the end of the hour-long show, and it seemed like an eternity before it came. And when it was over, it was interesting to see the dozens of comments that lit up our Facebook page and website.
Some of those comments indicated that people felt the report did not show a complete picture of the insurance claims, repair and parts procurement processes. And I agree. After all, how could an 11-minute segment possibly provide a comprehensive picture of the vast and complex world of collision repair? Can you imagine if they had tried to touch on the overall automotive aftermarket, an even bigger universe than auto body? Maybe 60 Minutes should handle that.
That’s what I dislike about TV news versus print. On TV, stories are chopped into little bits with sensationalism thrown in for good measure. You can never get the whole story because they don’t spend enough time on it. In print, however, you have more space to fully delve into the issue and show both sides of the issue (although even that is tightening up these days). Then again, it seems people these days want more and more bite-sized news bits because attention spans are decreasing – a disturbing trend indeed.
Do the things that the report revealed happen? Yes, we know steering happens. And we know there are questionable parts out there. But just as it is unconscionable for insurer practices to put people back in unsafe cars, it is just as unconscionable for body shops to put people back in unsafe cars due to lack of training or cutting corners. The “insurer made me do it” defense will never hold up in court because the insurer will say they are only the payer of the claim, and the repairer is the repair expert whose hands touched the vehicle. That may be the ultimate lesson out of this.