Courtesy Calibrations: 2 out of 5 U.S. shops don’t pursue insurer payment for inspections, new billing report says

Toronto, Ontario — The latest “Who Pays for What?” report is out, courtesy of Collision Advice and the CRASH network, and is, for the very first time, centred around billing practices for scanning and calibration work.

Of the more than 400 U.S. repair shops that responded to the survey from industry expert Mike Anderson, two out of five reported that they never bill insurers for safety inspections.

Among those who do bill, 38 percent say that these charges are either “always” or “most of the time” paid out by one of the U.S.’s eight major insurers, while a nearly equal portion of respondents say they are only paid “some of the time.”

Progressive and USAA were found to be the most reliable insurers, in terms of tendency to pay for safety inspections, followed by GEICO, Nationwide and State Farm.

In a press release issued alongside the report, Anderson leveled with shop owners about the difficult position charging for these services tends to put them in, saying “My heart bleeds for shops.”

“There are some out there really trying to do the right thing by doing these safety inspections but they’re getting stuck in the middle.”

He goes on to assert that it is doubly unfair that insurers don’t seem to appreciate the difficult situation they are putting their partners in when they don’t cover these safety inspections, especially considering repair shops still have a liability to complete them, with payment or without.

“It’s not fair, and it’s not right, for the shop or the consumer,” said Anderson. “Insurers need to step up and be part of the solution to this issue, not add to it.”

Concerning in-process scans, 36 percent of shops that bill for them say they “always” or “most of the time” receive payment.

Progressive, USAA and Nationwide were again shown to lead the pack in compensating shops for these scans, with respondents reporting that they tend to pay for in-process scans more than 20 percent of the time.

“I have learned that this is an absolutely necessary process, and just as important as a pre and post-repair scan,” said Anderson.

“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.”

Insurance companies do appear to be mostly on board with pre and post-repair scans, however, with 88 percent of billing shops saying they are always or usually paid for the former, and 91 percent in the case of the latter.

On pre-repair scans, Anderson said “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 percent of the time.

“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 labour.”

On post-repair scans, he said “…the post-repair scan has to be done to ensure all the safety and comfort features of the vehicle are working properly.”

“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.”


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