The Insurance Industry Loves Your Apathy - BodyShop Business

The Insurance Industry Loves Your Apathy

If you continue to sit back and let things happen, when you finally do decide the insurance industry has gone too far, it might be too late to do anything about it.

I may barely know the difference between a rocker panel and a quarter panel, but I do know apathy when I run headlong into it.

Earlier this year, I either faxed or mailed the following to approximately 40 body shops in the Charlotte, N.C., area:

To: Greater Charlotte Area Body Shop Owners and Managers

Re: Body Shops Legislative Reception


My name is Jaime Alligood. I write articles for The Collision Expert concerning insurance and politics and their effect on the collision repair and healthcare industries. I hope you have read some of them. If you have, you know how important I think it is for body shop people to get to know the legislators who make the laws that govern your business – laws that tell you what you can do, how you can do it and how you get paid for doing it. If you haven’t read my articles, please let me tell you now, it’s extremely important with all of the changes that have taken place or that the insurance industry is seeking.

I have been asked by the Independent Auto Body Association (IABA) to help plan a reception for candidates running for legislative offices from the greater Charlotte area. The purpose would be to allow body shop people to meet the candidates, find out who’s receptive to their positions and then support those candidates. For a reception to be successful, there would have to be strong participation from the shops. Numbers impress candidates. A reception with wide participation from body shops would demonstrate the potential political strength of the collision repair industry. Conversely, low participation would make the industry appear weak. Therefore, we need to plan an impressive reception; otherwise it would be better not to have one.

Please help us determine if there’s sufficient interest in participating in such an event.

Please FAX the following questionnaire back to me at (704) 393-1935 if you’re interested in participating.

The questionnaire basically asked if they’d be willing to attend, how many people they could bring and if they’d be willing to help sponsor/fund the event.

Care to guess how many responses I received? Only ONE! And that was because I hand delivered the form to him, and he filled it out and handed it back to me right there.

Not a single body shop owner bothered to return the questionnaire by mail or fax. Perhaps they never even bothered to read it.

Come on folks! What will it take to get your attention? What will it take to get you involved? Would an insurance-company-owned body shop being built next door to you do it? Would it take the insurance lobby getting laws passed requiring customers to take their cars to a company-owned shop where the adjuster is also the shop appraiser? How about laws allowing insurance policies that only pay for aftermarket parts?

Would insurance companies purchasing all parts and paint direct from the manufacturers get your attention?

Would insurance companies cutting labor rates in half, like they do some doctors’ fees, spur you to action?

What if your state legislature passed a law establishing a bureaucracy with rules so one-sided that you could be investigated and charged with fraud just because an adjuster thinks your estimate is too high? Did you know that some insurers have already gone after some shop owners for fraud just because the body shop estimate was higher than the insurance company estimate?

Would the above things happening cure your apathy?

The problem is that if they’re allowed to happen, it may be too late to do anything to reverse the situation.

It’s not my intention to fuss at you or accuse anyone. However, as my great-grandmother used to say, “Sometimes you have to hit a mule over the head with a 2×4 to get his attention.”

I hope I’ve gotten yours.

I realize there are a few body shop owners and managers who are trying hard to do something – and that’s great. The problem is that those folks are getting very little help.

The percentage of body shop people who are actively involved in the political process is less than the percentage of parts discounts the insurance companies demand. Most shop owners and managers evidently are content because they continue to exhibit the apathy that makes the insurance industry so happy.

If you care about the future of your business, get active now.

The insurance industry is working hard to meet candidates and determine who will support their goals. They’ll support those candidates and help many of them get elected. If you don’t do something, your legislature will likely be packed with senators and representatives who’ve only heard the insurance company’s side of issues. And they’ll cast their votes without ever having heard about the issues important to you and your customers.

Are you satisfied with the changes the insurance industry wants? If so, keep doing nothing.

If, however, you want to help your industry have a voice in the legislative process, find out who the active body shop people are in your area. If you don’t know, contact your local association.

“Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.” – Thomas Edison.

Writer Jaime T. Alligood is a consultant for Causey & Associates, a consumer advocacy, consulting and lobbying firm. She can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed in this guest editorial do not necessarily reflect those of BodyShop Business magazine.

Got something to say? Fax your opinion on an industry issue to (330) 670-0874 or e-mail them to BSB editor Georgina K. Carson at [email protected].

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