California BAR, DOI Refute Assembly Member's Claims of Rampant Collision Repair Fraud - BodyShop Business

California BAR, DOI Refute Assembly Member’s Claims of Rampant Collision Repair Fraud

Despite claims to the contrary, accounts of collision repair fraud constitute a very small percentage of complaints in California, reported Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) Chief Sherry Mehl  and Deputy Commissioner of the Enforcement Branch for the California Department of Insurance (DOI) Rick Plein at a public hearing Aug. 25. Mehl stated that the fraud rates in the industry are “probably average to low.”

The hearing was called by Assemblymember Mary Hayashi (sponsor of A.B.1200) of the Committee on Business and Professions, who wrote in an op-ed piece for the San Francisco Chronicle that the collision repair industry is “challenged by fraud and misrepresentation.” Sen. Jackie Spier wrote a piece in defense of collision repairers.

According to Mehl’s statistics, 2 percent of complaints filed through the BAR’s complaint hotline actually resulted in disciplinary action, and Plein added that less than four-tenths of 1 percent of the DOI’s fraud complaints involve a collision repair facility.

At the hearing, Hayashi said the committee should identify further steps to be taken to combat fraud in the auto repair industry.

However, Assemblymember Roger Niello noted that “it would be a bit of a leap…to condemn an entire industry because of a few bad apples. I have a concern about leaving a public hearing with the information that there is a pervasive problem of dishonesty, lack of ethics and fraud in the autobody repair industry because I see absolutely no evidence of that based upon the testimony today.”

The board of directors for the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) expressed appreciation of the facts presented by the BAR and the DOI, which the group says countered Hayashi’s negative claims about the industry and reinforced the fact that most collision repairers aren’t interested in defrauding customers.

“It’s important for the motoring public to have a strong sense of faith and trust in the professionals who go to work each day to repair their vehicles with the utmost concern for safety and accuracy of the repair,” said SCRS Chairman Barry Dorn. “Our industry has had obstacles in overcoming the public perception of our trade, and facts presented such as these validate that we have an industry of hard-working men and women who do work tirelessly to repair the public’s damaged vehicles in a safe, honest and professional manner.”
“As an industry association, we fully understand the ramifications that fraudulent activity has to our consumer base and to those of us who have worked hard to uphold the professionalism of the industry,” added SCRS National Director Luis Alonso. “It is, however, extremely important that the legislature, media and industry not sensationalize what has been proven to be a very small occurrence in a state such as California. Doing so only fosters an inaccurate public perception of the collision repair trade and minimizes the public’s assurance in their service providers. ”

The SCRS says part of its mission is to maintain consumers’ trust in collision repairers.

“This is a proud industry of hardworking professionals who fulfill a valuable and needed role for their communities,” said SCRS Executive Director Aaron Schulenburg. “It’s very important to ensure that false assumptions, accusations and allegations of activity do not undermine the vast professionalism and integrity of our industry.”

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