You’ve all heard it before from an insurer:
“I’m not paying for that.”
The phrase haunts repairers as they try to rationalize how on earth they can make a proper repair if the insurance comapny isn’t going to pay for the needed work.
And while I wish there was a silver bullet I could offer up to solve repairers’ struggles, my revolver is empty.
What I can offer to keep the insurers at bay is some advice from Erica Eversman, a well-known collision repair attorney and consumer liaison with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, who is often asked by body shops: “What can I do?”
Remind Insurers of Where the Liability Lays
One of the things Eversman typically encourages repairers to do is remind insurers that the liability for the repair falls on the shop. So if an insurer is refusing to pay for a procedure that must be done, ask that insurer to explain to your garage carrier why they’re not going to cover the shop in the event that you’re sued for not completing that necessary procedure.
“I will often tell the repairers to tell insurers: ‘Look, this is something that I have to do. It’s in my professional judgment, and if I don’t perform according to my professional judgment, then I’m basically committing negligence,. I’m not going to be able to ignore what I know is the right way to do something just because you don’t want to pay for it,’” said Eversman.
Keep Customers in the Loop
If it was your car being repaired, wouldn’t you want to know that the insurance carrier you pay a monthly premium to doesn’t want to pay for necessary repair procedures? According to Eversman, one of the most critical things repairers can do is keep consumers in the loop. Many insurers will cut your customer out until they call them to tell them how awful your shop is for wanting to overcharge them. You don’t want to get into the situation either where you only call the customer when the insurer refuses to pay for something and tell them they have terrible insurance.
What you need to do is keep them in the loop from the very beginning of the repair. Eversman recommends making sure your customer is cc’d on all emails between your shop and the insurer, even if you have to forward the emails to them. Show them, “Hey, your insurer is trying to say we don’t need to perform these procedures that are designed to properly and safely repair your car.”
Remember – the consumer’s voice is always louder.
The more you keep your customers involved in discussions about the repair, the more likely they are to help you provide them with and get paid for a safe and proper repair.
Educate Everyone on OEM Standards
While you should already be adhering to OEM standards and procedures, Eversman encourages repairers to make sure those documents are on hand and ready to send to an insurer or include in the repair file. Some insurers might tell consumers that these procedures are old directives and don’t apply to their vehicle. You have to make sure that not only are your customers aware of what the manufacturer requires prior to starting the repair but that the insurer also knows that you intend to follow OEM procedures and will not back down.
When All Else Fails
While it’s unfortunate repairers have to play these games, for right now it’s the reality. Eversman’s advice covers the groundwork for winning the battle, but sometimes you have to go even beyond the insurer. I’ll talk about that and more next month. Until then, continue to keep the customer top of mind and be their no. 1 advocate.