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‘Who Pays for What?’ finds more OEM repair research, less scans being done

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Business Practices
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When collision repairers were recently asked how often they research OEM repair procedures after reconnecting a battery, 34% said they do it “all the time.” That’s a 14% increase over 2022.

Another 22% said they research OEM repair procedures “most of the time.”

That was among the findings of the Q4 2023 “Who Pays for What?” survey conducted by Collision Advice and CRASH Network. Nearly 550 shops in 48 states responded to the online survey, held in October.

Battery reconnect procedures vary by automaker but sometimes include initializing sensors or clearing diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs), according to Collision Advice President Mike Anderson.

“I was analyzing the procedures called for by one Asian automaker recently, and found 11 procedures required after reconnecting the battery,” Anderson said in a news release. “Researching procedures need to happen every single time on every single vehicle. Disconnecting the battery often will set DTCs that you can’t check for without doing a post-repair scan in conjunction with reconnecting the battery.”

Fifty-seven percent of shops that billed for battery reconnect labor said they were reimbursed regularly by the top eight largest national insurers. However, about 1 in 4 shops said they’ve never sought payment for the OEM-specified procedures.

The survey also found decreases in labor billing for in-process scans, post-repair scans, and vehicle safety inspections.

In-process scan billing saw a decrease of 1% with 35% of respondents who billed for it being paid always or most of the time, compared to 2022.

Twenty to 30% of all respondents who billed for the procedures said all eight insurers always pay for the procedure with Progressive and USAA doing so most often. Allstate pays the least often, with 40% of shops saying the insurer never pays for the procedure.

“I have learned that this is an absolutely necessary process, and just as important as a pre- and post-repair scan,” Anderson wrote. “Some vehicle features or options may be turned off or placed in fail-safe mode due to the disassembly of the vehicle or removal and reinstallation of a component, or due to lost communication DTCs that are set. If I don’t address that before I do my test drive, it could generate another DTC to tell me there was a problem because it was turned off, or I may not be able to properly do a calibration if it’s turned off.”

Post-repair scan payment was down 1% with 90% of respondents being paid always or most of the time, compared to 2022. Progressive and USAA most often paid all of the time with more than 70% of shops per carrier saying each one paid. State Farm most often never pays, according to 5.9% of shops.

“…the post-repair scan has to be done to ensure all the safety and comfort features of the vehicle are working properly,” Anderson wrote. “There is no dash warning light, for example, that tells you the Bluetooth feature isn’t working. There may be no dash light for blind-spot monitoring or adaptive cruise control. So, I look forward to the day when post-repair scans are being paid 100 percent. It is critical to perform a test drive (action test, drive cycle, etc.) to achieve the set conditions BEFORE performing a post-repair scan.”

Vehicle safety inspections vary by OEM, as outlined in their repair procedures, and can include measuring the steering column, inspecting the dash carrier, inspecting SRS sensors, and more. All are critical to ensuring the vehicle is repaired back to factory safety standards to keep passengers safe if the vehicle is involved in another collision.

Compared to 2022, 3.1% fewer shops billed for vehicle safety inspection labor. Of those that billed for it, 35% were always paid or paid most of the time for the inspection.

USAA and Nationwide most often always pay for the inspection with more than 22% of shops per carrier responding that they do. Allstate and State Farm most often never pay for the inspections, according to the survey results.

Anderson noted that “a third-party payer refusing to pay you DOES NOT remove you from any liability based on a failure to conduct these safety inspections.”

Pre-repair scan billing saw an increase of 1.4% with 89% of respondents being paid always or most of the time, compared to the year before.

Progressive, USAA, Farmers, Nationwide, and Liberty Mutual always paid more than 70% of shops for pre-repair scans that billed for it. The highest percentage of shops who said an insurer never paid for the procedure was State Farm at 6%.

“It is amazing and concerning to me that as we are working on newer and newer vehicles that this is not done and paid for 100% of the time,” Anderson wrote in the survey results. “Collision repairers need to wake up to the fact that this is needed and that it is impossible to write an accurate estimate or repair plan without doing so to diagnose what a vehicle needs such as seat belts or other required parts and labor.

“One of the things that I learned recently is that on some vehicles, an ADAS component (such as adaptive cruise control) can be out of spec (the horizontal or vertical alignment values for the radar, for example) without triggering a diagnostic trouble code. Therefore, it is important that collision repairers understand how to use an OEM diagnostic scan tool when required to verify the values of ADAS components. In addition, a vehicle may not have been driven enough to achieve the ‘set conditions’ to trigger a DTC. Set conditions may include a specific speed, distance, driving pattern, etc.”

The latest “Who Pays for What?” survey is now open through the end of the month. It focuses on not-included refinish labor operations. Shops can take the survey here. The results of previous surveys are also available here.

Survey participants receive a free report with complete survey findings, analysis, and resources.

The survey can be completed in about 15 minutes by anyone familiar with their shop’s billing practices and the payment practices of at least some of the largest national insurers. Each shop’s responses are not shared; only aggregated data is released.


Featured image credit: da-kuk/iStock

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