Mike Ferrucci is a 39-year-old partner at Ray’s CARSTAR Auto Body in Bristol, Conn. He says he is not going anywhere, and collision repair is his future. He doesn’t believe that just because things have been done a certain way for 30 years that that’s the right way.
“I don’t believe that because I haven’t been doing it for 30 years,” Ferrucci says. “I want to fix cars correctly.”
But Ferrucci has been running into a challenge fixing cars correctly because he says insurers are using the OEMs’ language in their position statements on scanning against his shop. If the OEM says “recommended,” not “required,” Ferrucci says insurers will not pay for the scan.
“I just got an email back from XYZ insurer the other day saying we would only [pay for a vehicle scan] if it was required, not recommended, which I thought was utterly irresponsible,” said Ferrucci.
“I think it’s time the manufacturers step up and help us as an industry because they’re the ones who want their vehicles repaired to pre-accident condition. But I think there is a disconnect between OEs and collision repairers. I would love for every OE to have a technical hotline. And put more of these position statements out there. When they’re written and say ‘mandatory,’ it’s black and white and insurers don’t debate this. When they put ‘recommended’ or ‘advise’ or ‘should be done,’ that’s when we run into issues.”
“I think the OEs need to be more body shop friendly. We are boots on the ground and we need to do these things, and if they leave any room for interpretation with the insurer, we’re done.”
According to Mark Allen, collision programs and workshop equipment specialist at Audi of America, there is a good reason why a lot of OEs use the word “recommended” and not “required.”
“Realism is that OEs need to write instructions and vet their position statements with our corporate counsel,” said Allen. “It is what keeps us from legal peril. There are many laws that compel us to only ‘recommend’ versus ‘must.’
“To the point of ‘stepping up, ‘Right to Repair’ was allegedly to get repair instructions for the average repairer. Long story short, they were made available (many for a nominal fee), but seldom are they consulted. If the vigilant repairer were to fully review the repair procedures, they would find this information. The challenge in the collision area is collision repairers don’t research into the other resources available to them, a.k.a. the mechanical and electrical repair sections of the repair instructions.”
One repair expert said that if a shop does not feel it can repair a car safely, it does not have to do the repair.
“Nobody can force someone to do a repair improperly or incomplete,” he said. “That’s a choice or decision made by the people working on the vehicle.
“A shop takes liability into its own hands when a vehicle is not repaired to the recommended procedures. You must decide what risk and liability you’re willing to assume. If the risk and costs are too high for you to assume, then make the decision to not fix the vehicle.”