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Survey Reveals Who’s Getting Paid for Diagnostic Labor Time

According to the latest “Who Pays for What?” survey, more than one-third of shops (39%) itemize on invoices the diagnostic labor time they spend researching diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) apart from the charge for the vehicle scan itself.

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Among the more than 500 shops responding to the survey’s new questions related to diagnostic time, about half acknowledged never having included an itemized charge for diagnostic time. But among those that do, about three in 10 (29%) say they are paid “always” or “most of the time” for the charge by the largest eight auto insurers, and the majority (55%) say they are paid at least “some of the time.”

Mike Anderson of Collision Advice, which conducts the surveys in conjunction with CRASH Network, believes those numbers will grow because diagnostic time is becoming an increasingly significant portion of collision repair work.

“I know firsthand how much time it takes to research and troubleshoot DTCs,” said Anderson. “Diagnostic labor time should really be separated from the scan labor time because there are just too many variables involved. Just as judgement times vary based on the size and location of the damage and the substrate involved, diagnostic time varies as well. Isn’t the time it takes to research one diagnostic trouble code different from researching five? And it’s not just looking up the code. You also have to navigate the OEM repair flowchart to determine what the most probable cause is. If there are several possible causes, it might be the first one you try, or the last one. All this takes time.”


The latest quarterly “Who Pays for What?” survey is now open through the month of January. It focuses on “not-included” refinish labor operations. Shops can take the survey by clicking here.

Survey participants receive a free report with complete survey findings along with analysis and resources to help shops better understand and use the information presented.

Anderson said the survey, which will take about 15 to 20 minutes, can be completed by anyone in a shop familiar with the shop’s billing practices and the payment practices of at least some of the largest national insurers. Each shop’s individual responses are held in the strictest confidence; only aggregated data is released.

The results of previous surveys are also available online here.

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