Michael Bradshaw, vice president of operations for K&M Collision in Hickory, N.C., was awarded claimed short-pays in a court-ordered arbitration. The binding arbitration was the result of Bradshaw filing a lawsuit on behalf of K&M Collision’s customer against Nationwide for the insurer’s underpayments of what were determined to be reasonable and necessary repair costs. In North Carolina, every lawsuit filed goes to binding arbitration, and only after same can either party then seek a trial if so inclined.
The insurer’s short-pays included: labor rates ($48 body and refinish, $80 mechanical and $65 frame); procedures (i.e. sand and buff, final detail, road test, color tint and collision access time); invoiced paint and materials; sublet markup; fixture usage; and a $250 damage analysis fee which included a comprehensive part-by-part inspection of all components including exterior panels, inner structure, mechanical components, and SRS and seat belt systems. The award also included storage charges at a rate of $50 per day for a total amount of $2,506.98 plus accrued interest until the insurer’s full payment is made.
“I’m glad the courts recognized who the repair experts were,” says Bradshaw. “From the beginning, I was very confident we would succeed through our legal system in proving all our charges to be both reasonable and necessary. For any insurer to expect all shops to operate by the same rates, procedures and charges regardless of training, manufacturer certifications, equipment and facilities is ludicrous. The fact is we have made a commitment to repairing vehicles properly, adhering strictly to all manufacturer repair methods and guidelines, and what we’re consistently finding with some insurers is they care very little about manufacturer certifications and proper repairs and only about bottom-line cost and the cheapest repairs possible. My father (the CEO) and I decided if we were going to stay in business and continue to repair vehicles properly, we could no longer accept insurer-dictated repair costs. We found that short-pay litigation was necessary to stop insurer underpayments and provide our customers with the factory-certified repairs their policy affords them.”
Bradshaw credited Erica Eversman, Ray Gunder, Barrett Smith and many other industry experts as well as his legal team of Jason A. Orndoff and William E. Morgan for his legal victory.
“I hope our actions and results encourage other quality-minded repairers to seek similar actions against the less-than-ethical insurers," said Bradshaw. "We learned a great deal in this initial case, and I have had to embark on two more cases against Nationwide for short-pays in the amounts of $5,663.24 and $10,135.52. I’m confident we will prevail as I know we are in the right. I know such actions are necessary to stop such behavior and to best serve our community members, our employees and our company. We’ll continue to share our efforts with others so they may know that they no longer have to accept insurer dictation of repairs, rates, materials and charges.”