San Diego lawyer Bruce Cornblum has written the Auto Body Repair Law Dictionary to help collision repairers understand the relationship between the shop, the insurer and the customer.
The dictionary defines some of the terms and concepts that the industry has yet to outline in a uniform way. It defines terms from “actual cash value” to “like, kind and quality” and “capping” to “tortious interference” and explains the legal principles pertaining to the industry.
It’s easy to navigate with a table of contents that allows readers to find the definitions they need and works as a reference to industry issues such as betterment, loss of use, option to repair or replace, and more.
The Table of Cases lists pertinent legal cases where certain industry terms and issues have been decided. Cornblum chose appellate court cases from across the country pertaining to industry issues. For example, Cornblum cites Allstate Insurance v. Serio (2002 Ct. App. NY) in regard to the subject of the insured’s right to select an auto body repair shop.
Cornblum also added an appendix that includes the California Code of Regulations. While he admits the book is “top-heavy in California law” (after all, he is a California lawyer), the book has general application for the entire country. Not binding, he says, but general application.
The author of several law books, Cornblum has experience in defining insurance policy terms. Among his works is a widely-used text in California in its ninth edition titled California Insurance Law Dictionary and Desk Reference. The book is an insurance law dictionary that defines every term under a liability and property policy. Cornblum’s statewide seminars on the subject teach lawyers – many of whom have also retained him to assist in litigation concerning those types of policies.
Cornblum began looking into the complexities of the relationship between insurers and body shops as a favor to Robert Klem, a former client and the owner of PaintEx. Concerned about third-party influence on the industry, Klem asked Cornblum to look into the legality of direct-repair programs, insurer steering and the like. As he researched the industry, Cornblum says he became more and more intrigued.
“Here are these two large industries that don’t get along because of financial considerations,” he says.
Eventually, Klem asked Cornblum to speak to a group of 20 California shop owners about the terminology and what he perceived to be the legal relationship between an insurance company and a body shop. After the meeting, the owners asked for a copy of Cornblum’s notes.
“I could see they became very interested in what these definitions were and how they applied.”
The response from the shop owners inspired Cornblum to write the dictionary, which took him nearly nine months to finish. His goal for the dictionary is that it serve as a basis for discussion for the legislature and industry organizations – and that it fills the void in the industry that has, thus far, lacked uniform definitions of terms shop owners deal with on a daily basis.
“I was surprised that the owners of some rather significant auto body repair shops would not have a sense or understanding of the … definitions I had arrived at,” he says. “There’s not one source that discusses in general terms these concepts.”