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More Auto Body Shops Getting Paid to Research OEM Repair Procedures, ‘Who Pays for What?’ Survey Finds

In the fall 2017 survey, 11 percent of shops said the eight largest auto insurers are paying them an administrative fee “always” or “most of the time” for researching OEM procedures.

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A small but growing percentage of shops report being paid an administrative fee for researching OEM information, according to the most recently released data from the “Who Pays for What?” surveys conducted by Collision Advice and CRASH Network.

In the fall 2017 survey, 11 percent of shops said the eight largest auto insurers are paying them an administrative fee “always” or “most of the time” for researching OEM procedures.

This was up from 7 percent in the same survey a year earlier, and up from just 6 percent in the 2015 survey.

Even taking the surveys’ margin of error into account, the uptick indicates some growth in the percentage of shops being paid such a fee when they conduct the research and include the fee on an invoice.

The percentage of shops saying they have never billed an administrative fee for OEM research also has declined from about 76 percent in 2015 to about 70 percent in the latest survey.

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Mike Anderson, founder of Collision Advice, said that even apart from subscription fees, there are real costs associated with researching information.

“I’m seeing the typical amount of total sales a single estimator can handle decline, because the estimating process continues to become more complex, including research of OEM repair information,” Anderson said. “I’m starting to see a few shops with an employee doing nothing but scanning vehicles and researching OEM repair procedures. I think it will be interesting to watch what shops report about billing and being paid for this moving forward.”

In addition to asking about administrative fees for OEM research, re-keying estimates and processing total losses, the October survey asked shops about their billing practices – and insurers’ payment practices – regarding a variety of shop supplies, such as seam-sealer and acid brushes.

It also gathered information from more than 700 shops across the country about aluminum repair rates, vehicle scanning and sublet markup. More than 87 percent of those taking the survey reported that participating in “Who Pays for What?” surveys is helping them improve their business.

First-Quarter Refinish Survey Open

The first of the four 2018 “Who Pays for What?” surveys, which focuses on not-included refinish operations, is open now through the end of January at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/QRCF3BW.

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The current survey focuses on refinish procedures and includes some new questions to offer the industry even more helpful information, according to Collision Advice and CRASH Network.

Survey participants receive a report with complete survey findings at no charge, broken down by region, insurer and DRP vs. non-DRP. The report also includes analysis and resources to help shops better understand and use the information presented.

Anderson said the survey, which will take about 15 to 30 minutes, should be completed by the shop owner, manager or estimator who is most familiar with the shop’s billing practices and the largest national insurers’ payment practices.

Collision Advice and CRASH Network hold each shop’s individual responses “in the strictest confidence,” only releasing aggregate data to the public.

The results of previous surveys are available here.

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