Auto body repair experts, including one with experience in the insurance industry, dismissed the idea of an ‘industry standard’ for collision repair outside of the instructions set out in OEM repair procedures. “There is no industry standard,” Larry Montanez, co-owner of P&L Consultants, said recently. “… the industry standards are set by the manufacturer for each vehicle and every model.” In addition, the OEM standard may even change for a vehicle midway through its model year.
Collision Hub CEO Kristen Felder, whose background includes an extensive insurance career, said the idea of an industry standard came out of the homeowner’s insurance industry, where case law supported the idea of a consistent method to perform residential construction like framing or roofing. “Trying to apply that to automotive was ‘kind of hogwash’. For example, if 19 out of 20 auto body repair facilities don’t have the proper equipment to make a repair and one did, the other 19 shops shouldn’t be getting any work. As an insurer, that’s what I should be looking at. We don’t pay to the lowest common denominator and ask everybody to lower their standards for repair, and call it an ‘industry standard.’ For automotive, the OEM is the industry standard, period,” she stated.
Montanez said that the same tooling and methodology would be used to cut a metal pipe, but you can’t find that kind of consistency in collision repair procedures, even within a single manufacturer, he said. Even battery disconnect instructions may be different in multiple vehicle lines. “Coming up with an industry standard is a lie,” he said. “It just shows your ignorance.”
Felder was more charitable, attributing it to a lack of education and noting that ‘it sounds reasonable’ to an insurance commissioner familiar with homeowner insurance. Mark Olson, Vehicle Collision Experts CEO, also more charitably suggested it might stem from an attempt to simplify what is now a highly complex auto body repair trade. He pointed to comments suggesting ‘We just need a chart that tells us everything we need to know about every car.’ “That chart can’t be built,” he said.
Felder, Olson and Montanez’s definition of OEM repair procedures as the industry standard echoes the three main auto body repair trade groups and I-CAR. You would think this wouldn’t even be a question at this point, but the issue has arisen in the current (US) Legislative Season, where a representative opposing a Senate Bill suggested that legitimate alternatives to OEM repair procedures existed. The bill would create a law that ‘no insurance company may require any repairer to use repair specifications or procedures that are not compliant with the recommendations of the original equipment manufacturer for those parts.’
“There was a time when ‘industry practices’ were good enough to repair 9 out of 10 cars that rolled into auto body shops,” wrote Wayne Weikel, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers state government affairs senior director. “That day has long passed. The only way a modern vehicle can be properly restored to pre-loss condition with any sort of confidence is for technicians to follow OEM repair procedures – every time.”
This article courtesy of John Huetter of Repairer Driven Education (RDE). Check out their website at; http://www.repairerdrivennews.com/ for this and many other informative and educational article on the collision repair industry.