In a statement distributed to the collision repair industry in October of 2007, the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) documented the organization’s official position on steering and deceptive referral practices. The position is as follows:
The Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) is strictly opposed to any insurer, insurance agent or representative referring a vehicle owner to a particular collision repair facility once the vehicle owner has selected a repair facility. The selection of a collision repair facility should not be interfered with by an insurer, insurance agent or representative unless specifically requested by the vehicle owner. Once the vehicle owner has selected a collision repair facility, any attempt to discourage the vehicle owner from utilizing that collision repair facility for the sole purpose of steering work, should entail significant penalties.
The SCRS says that in light of recent events taking place within the industry, both in practice in members’ markets and legislatively across the country, it felt compelled to reiterate its position to the industry and make known that its convictions on the issue are as resolute today as when the position was initially written.
“SCRS strongly supports collision repairers, state organizations, legislators and enforcement agencies that are pursuing solutions which further enforce the end of this type of unacceptable behavior,” said SCRS Chairman Barry Dorn. “There are some states that have made great headway in protecting the rights of consumers and small businesses from these tactics, and we sincerely applaud those efforts. As an example, the current law in California serves as a positive example of an appropriate position that states and enforcement agencies should be held to. We are sincerely discouraged to see that the insurance lobby is taking such efforts to diminish the consumers’ rights in recent proposed legislative efforts."
SCRS say it hopes that legislators, who are both insurance and repair consumers themselves, will see the value in maintaining or promoting laws that provide better enforcement to ensure their fellow consumers’ decision on where to obtain their collision repair services are not unduly influenced by parties who have a vested interest in the cost of the repair, or the facility that is chosen.
The SCRS says it understands it can be difficult to document steering which the SCRS calls “a practice that can range from blatant occurrences to more passive approaches which are built into well-crafted word tracks and are subject to interpretation” and the group says it supports states that have made aggressive attempts to curb steering practices.
For more information, visit www.scrs.com.