I just opened a body shop in Portland, Ore. What are the steps I need to take once I get a claim number?
Asked by Ruben Martinez, Network Auto Collision Repair, Portland, Ore.
Welcome to the industry! You did not mention the amount of damage or the insurance carrier, so this one is a little tough to answer, but here is my advice.
First, make sure you have a signed repair order (RO) from the registered owner of the vehicle. From my experience, Oregon shops don’t take this as seriously as they should. If you don’t have a signed, legal RO, you don’t have anything!
New to the business? Follow the guidelines of the California BAR in their "Write It Right" brochure. I know, you are in Oregon and the California rules don’t apply. Still, do it the California way from the beginning to avoid future expensive lessons! Last week, I had my MGB worked on in Portland. There was never a repair order created, I never signed anything! I could have driven away with my car and never paid the bill! Since there was no RO, there was no record of my agreeing to pay for the work performed.
Bring the car inside (it’s Portland, so it’s raining until June) and take good digital photos. You need four corners of the vehicle, the damaged area, the ID plate from the driver’s door jamb and the mileage.
If the customer has contacted their insurance carrier, get the name and number and call them to ask how to proceed. If the customer has not called in the claim, ask them to do so ASAP, letting the adjuster know that you have the vehicle. Ask for an inspection. Get names and approximate inspection timelines. Ask for permission to dismantle the vehicle for a blueprint. If you don’t get permission for the teardown, the insurance carrier may deny payment.
There is a good chance that the customer is insured with a company with an active DRP in your market. If so, make sure the customer clearly states that they want you to repair their vehicle. Don’t let the adjuster steer the customer to their DRP.
One you have the adjuster and the vehicle, it’s a negotiation exercise. Write a complete blueprint yourself and negotiate from that, not the adjuster’s estimate.