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CIECA to add support for scanning documentation in BMS data standard

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In another sign of the necessity of vehicle diagnostics in modern auto body repair, CIECA announced Monday a “fast-tracked” plan to allow the transmission of scanning results through the Business Message Suite data standard.

The Business Message Suite and its more widely used but obsolete predecessor, the Estimate Management Standard, allow a variety of software related to the collision repair industry to exchange repair order data easily.

The Collision Industry Electronic Commerce Association wrote in a news release Monday that it would add the ability to attach scan documentation and results to BMS message transmissions between insurers, auto body shops and other interests within the collision repair ecosystem. (For example, FCA, which checks estimates to ensure its certified collision repairers pre- and post-scanned every one of the OEM’s vehicles.)

“The scan output data can be either images, XML, pdf’s, or CSV files, depending on the scan tool,” CIECA Executive Director Fred Iantorno said in a statement. “The BMS (Business Message Suite) leverages all file types.”

CIECA said the request for scanning came from LaMettry’s Collision Center operations President Darrell Amberson, who at the January Collision Industry Conference said his company was “scanning virtually every collision car that we repair,” about 1,000 cars a month.

“Vehicle Scanning has become an integral part of the entire repair process on certain vehicles,” Amberson said in a statement. “Pre-repair and Post-repair scanning has become necessary in certain situations. The information received from the vehicle scan tool should be saved with the other Repair Order documentation for subsequent review, auditing, and other purposes. Repairers and the industry need a method to retain and exchange this data with the entire RO file.”

Amberson said in January that documenting scanning didn’t have to be complicated — it just took discipline.

McDonnell Group owner Matthew McDonnell, another member of the panel said that Mike Anderson of Collision Advice had stressed “documentation, documentation, documentation.”

“If it’s not documented, it didn’t happen,” McDonnell described his company’s mantra. This has led to success consistently being paid for scans.

CIECA said that just as shops need to purchase scan tools, “the data systems need to be re-tooled with the addition of scan data.” But its efforts could be moot if a shop doesn’t have a means of transmitting BMS messages; much of the industry still appears to use the outdated EMS standard, which hasn’t been supported by CIECA since 2003.

The neutral organization has provided assistance for collision repairers with access to IT resources to convert from EMS to BMS, but this might not be an option for every small shop. CCC will offer BMS support, but only through its controversial Secure Share platform.

It’ll be interesting if the convenience of transmitting scan documentation leads to a wider BMS adoption, no matter how it is ultimately accomplished.

Ironically, CIECA’s announcement came the same day as an appraiser’s opinion piece on argued that insurers should demand shops meet a “higher standard of reporting” and make sure a shop isn’t cheaping out on the scan process:

The industry should not be satisfied with one line explanations of “Scan for Codes” or “Health Scan.” A higher standard of reporting may be merited with the identification of the scan tool, the technician’s name, certification and/or skill level of the technician along with proper documentation of scan results, and actions taken with an emphasis on full compliance with the OEM position where applicable.

Now that the insurance industry realizes that diagnostic scanning allowances are a necessary inclusion in automobile damage estimates, it is time for insurers to be diligent about getting what they pay for by defining a higher standard and seeing that repairers adhere to it. Insurers should work with shops to seek some balance with solutions that are cost-effective yet not inferior to the overall process of restoring the vehicle to the industry accepted standards. Pre- and post-repair scan allowances should be supported with the proper documentation of scan results and itemized explanations of services rendered, which serves to protect the insurer, repairer and consumer alike.

Anyone who wants to help CIECA with the project is welcome. Contact Iantorno at

“Please forward this email to others in your company that might be interested in joining the project,” CIECA stated.

More information:

“Seeing what is invisible”, May 1, 2017

“CIECA announces New Project to Incorporate Scans into the BMS”

CIECA, May 1, 2017


A 2016 Toyota Camry hybrid is scanned with an AirPro tool. (Provided by Toby Chess)

LaMettry’s Collision Center operations President Darrell Amberson, second from left, participates in a January 2017 panel regarding scanning at the Collision Industry Conference. (John Huetter/Repairer Driven News)

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