Hello, Pot? It's the Kettle - BodyShop Business

Hello, Pot? It’s the Kettle

Somewhere in this country, a dad is sitting on a couch, smoking a cigarette, watching a football game and resting a bowl of potato chips on his beer belly (which doubles as a TV tray).

During a commercial break, this same dad lectures his son on smoking. "It’s a terrible habit," he says, blowing smoke both literally and figuratively. "Don’t let me catch you doing it again."

Well … that heart-felt speech should effectively suppress any further desire his son has to smoke, don’t you think?

Every day, we see classic cases of "Do as I say, not as I do." Or, as my husband likes to say, "Hello, pot? It’s the kettle."

The most recent example of the pot calling the kettle black was when the National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII) issued a statement about how happy they are that California Senate Bill 1648 (which would’ve outlawed insurer-owned shops) failed to pass. Says NAII Vice President Sam Sorich: "Repair shops, which today are characterized by a 43 percent fraud rate, are not entitled to statutory protections."

Though I don’t know why 1648 failed, I do know that it takes a lot of cojones for the insurance industry to reprimand repairers for fraud. I’m not saying repairers are guilt free, mind you. Plenty of shops commit fraudulent acts every day.

Heck, when I shopped around for estimates after my Celica was rear-ended, three out of the four shops I visited offered to bury my deductible. One estimator even explained how he’d do it. And, frankly, if I hadn’t been knowledgeable about the collision repair industry, I wouldn’t have known that what he was really saying was that he was going to charge the insurer for something the shop wasn’t going to do.

The "phantom invoice" is another type of fraud that’s apparently popular with some repairers. In a big wreck – in which the shop orders 40 to 50 parts – the shop will often fax the order to the dealer parts department, which must then send the parts in three or four loads with the same number of invoices. But when the job’s done, the shop returns many of the parts for credit. You see, all the shop really wants is the original invoice (showing the purchase of all the parts) to submit to the insurer. This practice is so prevalent, in fact, that dealer parts departments – tired of having to restock the unused parts – often ask the shop up front: "Do you want the parts or just the paper?"

But I digress … We all know that there are shops out there that are willing to do just about anything to get business. But we also know that insurance companies aren’t always the victim. In many cases – especially with a "preferred shop" – insurers sometimes look the other way (silently condoning illegal actions and more or less throwing their own policyholders under a bus). We also know that some adjusters encourage fraud. (Rather than having the shop replace an inner-wheel housing, one appraiser told a shop manager to throw away the new part and use the money he’d receive for installing the part to pay for some additional procedures that weren’t on the estimate.)

Insurers are, by no means, in any position to judge repairers.

"What about the fraud committed daily by the powerful insurers in this country?" asks autobody lobbyist Mike Causey, after hearing the NAII’s statements about repairer fraud. "How often do [insurers] lie, cheat and steal [from] body shops, auto glass shops and even their own policyholders?"

I don’t know. What I do know is this: Since insurers are also guilty, they’ve flipped their lid if they think it’s their place to call the kettle black.

Georgina K. Carson

You May Also Like

Body Bangin’: The Golden Rule Doesn’t Work with Mark Olson

Live from the Southeast Collision Conference, Micki Woods interviews Mark Olson of Vehicle Collision Experts on keys to understanding people.

Micki Woods, master marketer for collision repair shops and owner of Micki Woods Marketing, is kicking off a series of daily podcasts from the Carolinas Collision Association's Southeast Collision Conference which took place April 18-19, 2023 in Doswell, Va. This series is sponsored by Lombard Equipment, which offers a premier line of automotive collision repair equipment for all your OEM certification needs. 

Body Bangin’: Stop Estimating and Start Repair Planning

Live from the Southeast Collision Conference, Micki Woods interviews Michael Bradshaw on creating a thorough repair process.

Body Bangin’: Recruiting Young People with Kurt Lawrance

Live from the Southeast Collision Conference, Micki Woods interviews Kurt Lawrance of KTL Restorations about a unique program he and his wife created to recruit young people to the automotive industry.

Body Bangin’: You’re Losing Money on Your Labor Rates!

Live from the Southeast Collision Conference, Micki Woods interviews John Shoemaker, business development manager with BASF Automotive Refinishes, on the difference between labor rates and labor types.

Body Bangin’: New Mixing Technology with Amanda Valmonte

Live from the Southeast Collision Conference, Micki Woods interviews Amanda Valmonte, business development manager with PPG, on the new Moonwalk automated mixing system.

Other Posts

Body Bangin’: Pre- and Post-Measuring with Chad Dellinger

Live from the Southeast Collision Conference, Micki Woods interviews Chad Dellinger of Autototality/Car-O-Liner on pre- and post-measuring.

Body Bangin’: Write Your Strongest Sheet with Danny Gredinberg

Live from the Southeast Collision Conference, Micki Woods interviews DEG Administrator Danny Gredinberg on how shops can utilize the DEG to get paid for what they do.

Body Bangin’: EVs Love Glue Pulling with Chris White

Live from the Southeast Collision Conference, Micki Woods interviews KECO Body Repair Products Owner Chris White on the benefits of glue pull repair.

Body Bangin’: Set the Stage for the Repair with “Big Chris”

Live from the Southeast Collision Conference, Micki Woods interviews Big Chris of Big Chris Collision in Aiken, S.C., on his key takeaways from the Southeast Collision Conference.