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The California Autobody Association (CAA) announced that it supports the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) performing a survey of the automotive repair industry that would include labor rates. The Collision Repair Association of California (CRA), however, opposes the BAR’s inclusion of labor rates in its survey.
The CRA opposes the survey because of pending changes in regulations that would ensure labor rate surveys aren’t used to set prevailing rates paid by insurers, CRA Director Allen Wood said in a letter to BAR Chief Sherry Mehl. What sparked the CRA’s concern was an additional suggested question to include in the survey that would ask
repairers for retail rates for collision and mechanical work.
The CAA dismissed the CRA’s concern, saying the survey would be purely informational.
“This is a ridiculous and unsubstantiated concern,” CAA President Ted Stein said. “This would be a voluntary survey for auto repair dealers, and its intent is to only gather industry information. This has nothing to do with the Department of Insurance’s ongoing revision of the labor rate survey guidelines. Shops provide their retail rates publicly every day, and they have a right to provide this to the BAR if they so choose. No one should be intimidated to not provide their retail rates to the BAR or anyone else.”
However, the CRA contends that the timing of the survey is inappropriate given the possible changes to survey regulations.
“Our objection is not because it is BAR that is doing the survey,” Wood said in his letter to Mehl. “In fact, we would welcome such assistance at a more appropriate time. We however recognize that to do so now will create a survey that just starts another controversy. The CRA believes it’s critical to adopt specific rules needed to accompany any survey process, as the outcome will have severe ramifications to the industry. The mere collection of reported rates without rules will not advance the cause of fair claims adjustment in collision repair.”
CAA representatives recently met with Mehl to discuss the industry survey and also the possibility of assisting in the creation of an updated industry survey questionnaire.
Both the CAA and CRA are involved in a working group of insurers and repairers that is advising the Department of Insurance on changes to labor rate survey regulations. Click HERE to read about the proposed changes.