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I’m close to getting kicked off a longtime insurance partner’s program thanks to being nitpicked by reinspectors on two different jobs. What course of action should I take?
I’ve been doing business with a particular insurer for more than 22 years. If you get written up three times, you’re off their program. We recently had a storm-damaged truck come in, and the assignment said "damaged tailgate and mark on left side of bed," but I called claims and told them there was no damage on the tailgate. Keep in mind that when I was writing up the storm damage, the customer started pointing out all kinds of damage: a door dent over here, the front bumper, a little dent in the cab, etc. So I wrote it up and sent it to claims and told them there was damage all over the truck from the storm but some was questionable. So I uploaded it for their review, and they ended up writing me up for overwriting. I told them I sent it up to them so that they could make the call, not give me strike one.
Two weeks later, another car comes in my shop and they write it up, putting two hours on the front bumper. I removed and installed the front cover and noticed more damage under the bottom side, so I took more pictures, uploaded them and got a remanufactured cover. I ended up getting written up again for strike two because they said I took the picture too close. I’ve been in the business for 33 years, so needless to say I was very upset. The reinspector said, ‘Sorry, man, but that picture is too close on that bumper.’ I said, ‘I’m in my truck and got my phone transferred. When I get back, I’ll resend you a better shot.’ And he said, ‘Nope, strike two.’ So I called his supervisor and wrote him a letter. After not receiving a response for three days, I can’t sleep. I’m one of the most respected shops in this town. Do I need legal help? Or who and how do I get to the top of this company’s ladder chain to rattle some doors on these reinspectors?
Question answered by: Jim Patrick, collision repair manager, Lang’s Chevrolet, Beavercreek, Ohio
Over the years, I’ve been added and dropped from a few DRP programs. Most of the insurance companies that dropped us have, over time, asked us to return, and we agreed.
The most recent one came from the hail storm of 2011 in the Dayton, Ohio, area. The CSI problem was that we could not do the jobs fast enough due to the overload. (We did a million dollars more volume in the last six months than the first six months of 2011). I was given till the end of the month to improve CSI scores. I got three days! The insurance company in question made up about 15 percent of our workload and was a valued partner in our business. On or off the DRP program, we will continue to honor our agreement and give the best customer service possible.
Three things you may want to consider when making your plans on how to deal with these unfair reinspectors:
1. The DRP programs belong to the insurance companies. Your fault, their fault or nobody’s fault at all, it’s their program, and they can drop a shop with only a phone call. I was surprised how quick they were to drop a 12-year partner after such a catastrophic event.
2. Do your best to work their program. Labeling all of the photos may help. Also, continue to plead your case with your DRP program manager. Keep track of every infraction, and document your follow-up answers. Your DRP manager/handler may also get graded on your score and have a more vested interest in keeping you on the program than some reinspector or “photo cop.” Most DRP managers can override the photo cop re-inspectors and should be able to help.
3. Here’s the hard part: don’t take it personally. It’s only business, even if it’s bad business on the insurance company’s part. Stay true to who you are and to your convictions; don’t let it get personal.
In conclusion, we survived by adding new smaller DRP programs, but over time, they all add up. We’re also working closely with the adjusters and local insurance agents from the insurance company that dropped us (they’re still about 6 percent of our business) in an ongoing effort to be reinstated.
I’m sure with your experience and integrity, you will make the right choices for your company’s future plans. I hope this helps…and also lets you know that you’re not alone in this constant battle.