At the recent Southeast Collision Conference in Richburg, S.C., Michael Bradshaw of K&M Collision implored attendees to know the insurance policy language and also rules and regulations that govern their businesses in their respective states as part of his presentation titled, “Agreeing to Disagree.”
“Insurers don’t know what the policy says, or they try to apply things to the claim that aren’t included within the policy language, said Bradshaw.
Disagreeing over vehicle value — whether it’s on a repairable estimate or a total-loss vehicle — seems to be one of the most common experiences collision shops share across the country. In North Carolina, all policies currently include an appraisal provision which can help to “close essential gaps when carriers don’t want to identify certain operations or parts.”
“The appraisal provision is a dispute resolution mechanism that takes the shop out of it; it takes the insurer out of it,” Bradshaw noted, explaining that it offers a way for shops to help make their customers whole without resorting to costly litigation.
When “right to appraisal” is invoked, the insured and the insurer each hire an independent appraiser who individually values the vehicle and comes to an agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached, an umpire must be hired to come to an agreement; however, that final decision is binding, Bradshaw stressed, which is why it’s so important for shops to have a clear understanding of the process and their role in ensuring that implementing this tool yields the desired results.
“When you suspect there’s going to be a disagreement on the repair, submit a supplement and then invoke the appraisal clause as early in the process as possible,” Bradshaw said. “We always document everything along the way very thoroughly, including hundreds of pictures. We can argue until we’re blue in the face, but we have to show them; we have to provide tangible evidence.”
While Bradshaw constantly advocates for the collision repair industry, he expressed reservations about inviting the government to interfere with the business.
“Be careful what you wish for, especially legislatively. We can work with a representative to get a bill introduced, but by the time that thing comes up for a vote, it’s gotten so distorted — because we’re up against a machine that we’re never going to outspend, and they’re always going to make sure the situation is favorable to them.”
Bradshaw utilized the remainder of his time to explain some common policy language, share tips on getting paid to use the correct vehicle parts and answer attendees’ questions.
Open to collision repair industry professionals from all locations, the 2022 Southeast Collision Conference offered three days of education, networking and exhibitions, hosted by the Carolinas Collision Association, Tennessee Collision Repairers Association and Gulf States Collision Association. Stay tuned for details about the 2023 Southeast Collision Conference as they become available here, or contact Josh Kent at [email protected] or (704) 998-8553.