New England Automotive Report January 2022

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New England Automotive Report

January 2022 • Volume 20, No. 1



EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE by Evangelos “Lucky” Papageorg 6 | Some Want It All LOCAL NEWS 8 | ADALB Delays Voting on 212 CMR 2.00 Amendments Once More 10 | Western Chapter Reunites to Honor Industry Legend Mike Beal 12 | Reunion, Recognition and Resources: AASP/MA Members Assemble at General Meeting by Alana Quartuccio Bonillo VENDOR AFFINITY PROGRAM MEMBER SPOTLIGHT 18 | Human Power Solutions by Alana Quartuccio Bonillo

22 | Here Comes the Sun: Industry Leaders Reflect on 2021 and Look Forward to a Brighter 2022 by Chasidy Rae Sisk


LEGAL PERSPECTIVE 40 | Who Has the Right to Authorize Repairs? by James A. Castleman, Esq.


31 | How Do Your Shop’s Experiences Compare? New England Automotive Report’s Inaugural Survey Results by Chasidy Rae Sisk

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Some Want It All


Many, many years ago, someone told me there are three things that people most desire when it comes to nearly any type of service provided – services which include collision repair. The three things most people want are: 1) top quality, 2) prompt service and 3) the lowest price point possible. Part of the explanation I received was that only two of these options can truly be accomplished at one time. It is high time that those involved in the claims payment segment of collision repair learn this valuable lesson. Sadly, insurers want all three things all the time and fail to see that they themselves are at the root of needless delays, potential lack of quality and the overall costliness associated with collision repair. They do so while portraying themselves to be protectors of the consumer in the process when, in fact, the only thing that they are protecting is their precious bottom line. Examples of the insurers’ behavior and violations are numerous – and yet widely ignored by governing agencies and legislators. The blatant disregard and manipulation of current regulations and common business practices which apply to other retail businesses is frustrating and can be disheartening. Fortunately, through the efforts of AASP/MA and our membership, we are shining a light on the real issues. We have a long, hard battle still ahead of us, but together, we made significant inroads in 2021 and look forward to some resolutions to the key issues that collision repairers face here in Massachusetts and nationally as we enter the new year. Let’s look at the three items everyone wants: top quality, speedy turnaround time and low price. In the collision repair industry, if you are seeking a high-quality collision repair, you must be willing to sacrifice how long the process may take or how low the cost may be. A shop can move a vehicle through the process quickly and do a high-quality job, but it will cost you. It could involve putting several skilled technicians on the job, which is costly. It




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Vice President Matthew Ciaschini

Treasurer Dana Snowdale

Secretary Gary Cloutier



Legislative Director At-Large Tom Ricci

ZONE 1 Mike Penacho Dan Wenzel John Studer

ZONE 2 Ray Belsito Joshua Fuller Brenda Lacaire

Affiliate Director Rick Fleming

Affiliate Director Bill Spellane

ZONE 3 Andrew Potter Brian Stone Phil Morin

AASP/MA ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE AASP/MA Executive Director Evangelos “Lucky” Papageorg

New England Automotive Report is published monthly by TGP, Inc., 244 Chestnut Street, Suite 202 Nutley, NJ 07110. Distributed free to qualified recipients; $48 to all others. Additional copies of New England Automotive Report are available at $5 per copy. Reproduction of any portions of this publication is specifically prohibited without written permission of the publisher. The opinions and ideas appearing in this magazine are not necessarily representations of TGP Inc. or of AASP/MA. Copyright © 2022 by Thomas Greco Publishing, Inc. Images courtesy of

6 January 2022

could also involve using new undamaged parts specifically designed for the repair of that vehicle by the OEM, again considered costly by some. This will avoid the time lost and the expense in test fitting as well as the manipulation of parts to “make them fit.” One must look at the entire picture to assess what is a “cost-containing” measure. If one is seeking only a low-cost repair, then using parts and materials not specific to the job at hand will help achieve that end. Additionally, the technician will not be the “A” tech or even possibly the “B” tech in the shop; nor will that job take precedence over a better paying job in the process. One will eventually get their wish and obtain a low-cost repair; however, what was sacrificed in the process? If one’s goal is a quick turnaround time (in insurance lingo: “a short cycle time”), you must be prepared to pay a little bit more for the special privilege of being prioritized ahead of other jobs in the queue, or one may have to sacrifice a bit of quality. Remember: You cannot have all three! You may have to be happy with tape lines around door handles or moldings. The color may be just a little bit off at an adjacent panel because blending preparation takes time. Your desire to get your vehicle back quickly can be met, but it will cost you – or you may be forced to settle for a lower quality in some aspect of the repair. The truth is that insurers want all three things on every single repair that is performed. They very successfully manipulate the situation so that the insured thinks all three are attainable, and carriers have brainwashed far too many repairers into thinking it is their job to make ALL three things attainable. Insurers also continue to try to convince our legislators and governing agencies that it is the collision repairer who is at fault for the high cost of repair and the extended cycle times experienced in the repair process, as well as (at times) poor quality repairs. Insurers use the fact that the ultimate liability lies at the feet of the repair shop to

New England Automotive Report

AASP/MA Administrative Assistant Alana Bonillo


Collision Director At-Large Rob DelGallo ZONE 4 Kevin Kyes Jim Marshall Paul Tuscano Affiliate Directors Frank Patterson Jeff White Don Dowling P. O. Box 850210 Braintree, MA 02185 617-574-0741

Membership Application 2022-2023

AASP-MA P.O. BOX 850210 Braintree, MA 02185 Phone: 617-574-0741 Fax: 973-235-1963 Email:

Please complete this form and return to our office via mail, email or fax with your dues payment. Thank You! BUSINESS INFORMATION Massachusetts Shop Registration # __________________ Total number of Staff (Techs, office, Mgrs)________ Company’s Official Name: ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Business Physical Address: _______________________________________________________________________________________________ Business Mailing Address (If Different): ________________________________________________________________________________

Telephone Number: (______)-________-___________ Fax: (______)-________-___________ DUES STRUCTURE. Collision Shop Annual Dues: $495 / 12 Months* PRIMARY BUSINESS CONTACT Name: _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Email: _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

YES � Please list my business as an AASP/MA member in good standing on the AASP/MA website for consumers to consider using for the collision repairs and assistance with the claims process. I understand this is a member benefit (_________ initials Date ___/____/2021) following MONEY SAVING BENEFITS: Yes � Please send me information regarding the � Dental plan � Healthcare plan � Credit card processing � All three PLEASE ENCLOSE PAYMENT WITH YOUR MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION

Check# : _______________ (IF collision shop please note your RS# on the memo line of the check) OR CC #: ______________________________________________________________________ EXP: ________/___________ CID: _________________ Billing Address: ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Name On Card: _____________________________________________ Signature: ____________________________________________________

I hereby make this application for membership with the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of MA (AASP/MA) for membership dues 2022-2023 as provided for in this contract. *Membership Dues are for a twelve-month period commencing on your anniversary month of membership.

REV 12/21 New England Automotive Report

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ADALB Delays Voting on 212 CMR 2.00 Amendments Once More For its last meeting of 2021, the Auto Damage Appraiser Licensing Board (ADALB) gathered in Millbury for its first inperson event since January 2020, providing a chance for Board members to continue discussing amendments to 212 CMR 2.00 which were approved by the previously seated ADALB in 2016. The ADALB began by continuing its review of the four objections presented by the Division of Insurance (DOI) in a December 2016 letter. Since its previous meeting, the Board received clarification on the DOI’s concerns, allowing for a unanimous vote to accept the DOI’s proposed changes; however, the collision repair representatives who sit on the ADALB made it clear that they had reservations. “The DOI’s comments continually reference the Massachusetts Insurance Federation and the Automobile Insurers Bureau, but nowhere in here do they reference SCRS, AASP, I-CAR or anyone that actually fixes or manufactures vehicles,” observed Board member Rick Starbard (Rick’s Auto Collision; Revere). “The only people that seem to have had any input into this are the people who pay to repair the cars, not anyone who has anything to do with making or repairing them.”

“The word ‘compromise’ isn’t used a lot nowadays, but everybody spent a lot of time on this, so I don’t have a problem agreeing to some of it if we can move forward,” Board member Bill Johnson (Pleasant Street Auto; South Hadley/Belchertown) urged. “This thing has been hanging around long enough. Isn’t five years long enough to delay the process?” Board members Samantha Tracy (Arbella Insurance) and Peter Smith (MAPFRE) posed additional questions related to 212 CMR 2.00, and after conversation around those queries, the ADALB completed its review of the regulations. Attorney Michael Powers will compile all of the changes into a single document which the Board will vote on during its next meeting, scheduled for January 26. AASP/MA members are strongly encouraged to listen to the recording of the November 23 meeting in the Members Only section of for a glimpse into the inner workings of the ADALB. The original proposed revisions can be found on the November meeting agenda, available at More detailed coverage of this meeting appears in the December issue of the Damage Report members only newsletter.



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New England Automotive Report

New England Automotive Report

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Western Chapter Reunites to Honor Industry Legend Mike Beal Western Chapter auto body shops reunited for a memorable “The 2013 Casino Night when we recognized ‘Mr. MABA, evening on November 18 at the Westwood Restaurant & Pub in Mike Beal’ as an industry legend. With more than 200 colleagues in Westfield in honor of Massachusetts industry legend, Mike Beal, attendance, life-long friendships were cemented that evening. Kudos aka “Mr. MABA.” to you Mike, and thank you for all you have done for our industry!” Beal served the industry in multiple capacities for 32 years. Vendors generously donated a multitude of prizes ranging He and his wife Mary owned and operated Michael’s Frame and from gift cards to car care buckets, golf balls, backpacks, a Bluetooth Collision until they retired in speaker, ceramic mugs, assorted tee2013. shirts and folding chairs to be given “Mike was totally surprised out as door prizes. at the outpouring of love from One of the many highlights all the shop owners in attendance of the evening was the infamous and by the testimonials from other “Goodie Bag” which mirrored those shop owners,” commented Joann given at many Western Chapter Nalewanski (Ed’s Auto Body; clambakes in the past. And of Easthampton) who coordinated course, the infamous “APPLAUSE” the event. sign was held up numerous times Event highlights included an to the roar of the crowd. Mary Beal update from AASP/MA Executive was heavily involved with planning Mike Beal and Ed Nalewanski Director Lucky Papageorg on this surprise event for her husband, the association’s work to improve the industry and a “Memories and she noted, “Mike was so surprised and so thrilled to see all his Contest,” which involved favorite memory submissions from several former colleagues reunited together again. It warms my heart that shop owners. While all suggestions were deemed memorable, the people took time out of their busy schedules to honor Mike. winning memory came from Mary Beal: It meant the world to him and to me.” PROTECTING CONSUMERS AND THE COLLISION INDUSTRY


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New England Automotive Report


by Alana Quartuccio Bonillo

Reunion, Recognition and Resources: AASP/MA Members Assemble at General Meeting AASP/MA hosted a general membership meeting at the DoubleTree Hilton in Westborough on November 17, bringing dozens of members face-to-face for the first time in two years. Members were eager to catch up and spend time together without computer screens while receiving updates about the association’s hard work to push vital legislation, recognizing fellow members and learning about the valuable benefits AASP/MA is putting forth thanks to various partnerships. “We had an aggressive plan to come out hard and fast, and I think we’ve done that,” commented AASP/MA Lobbyist Guy Glodis upon updating members about the success with HB 4242 which aims to move the ADALB from the control of the Department of Insurance to the Department of Public Licensure. The bill made it through the first steps favorably and will next be reviewed by the Ways and Means Committee. AASP/MA is also working hard to garner support for its reimbursement rate bill (HB 1111), which currently seeks favorable passage from the Financial Service Committee. “We will get the bill(s) out by making noise,” declared Glodis, who called on all to take part in the campaign.

Pictured L-R: Lucky Papageorg, Al Brodeur, Molly Brodeur The AASP/MA Board took the opportunity of this in-person gathering to recognize Immediate Past President Molly Brodeur (Al Brodeur Auto Body; Marlborough) for her years of dedication to the industry. She received a standing ovation upon accepting the award from her father, Al Brodeur and AASP/MA Executive Director Evangelos “Lucky” Papageorg. “Molly has been on the Board for 10 years and spent six years as president, more or less holding everything together,” shared AASP/MA President Kevin Gallerani (Cape Auto Body; Plymouth). “She played multiple roles, always stepped it up and did everything she could, many times sacrificing time at the shop and time at home with family. We wanted to take the opportunity to thank her for the personal sacrifices she made.” Next, members heard presentations from three Vendor Affinity Program sponsors that have partnered with the association to offer cost savings benefits to members in good standing. The program was designed to help add value to member shops’ employment offerings. “Benefits will help you keep employees,” encouraged Papageorg. “Everyone’s biggest gripe, aside from the Labor Rate, is trying to find and maintain good technicians.” 12 January 2022

New England Automotive Report

“Everyone’s biggest gripe, aside from the Labor Rate, is trying to find and maintain good technicians.” Members heard from Steve Walsh of The Magellan Agency who explained the association’s dental health plan. John Monico of World Insurance Associates spoke on the benefits of the AASP/MA health insurance program, a national plan with national provider network, which offers discounts thanks to the large network it serves. Then, Sean Broderick of Aurora/Chosen Payments shared information about the fee-free credit card processing available to AASP/MA members. Chris Morin of Moonraker SEO spoke to the collision repairer audience about how using their Google listing and reviews can expand their outreach and help them obtain more customers. When it comes to using social media properly, Morin recommended: “Google drives 10 percent more people than Facebook. If you have a Facebook business page and have someone posting things at night, tell them to go to bed. It’s not worth it. People are only online at night looking at photos of cats. But people are on Google because they need services right then.” Lastly, keynote speaker Sandra Kearney of Human Power Solutions delivered the feature presentation as she taught the audience about how she can work with them to obtain grant money available via the Massachusetts workforce training fund for the vital training that technicians need in order to properly, safely and skillfully repair cars in today’s world. Most business owners are likely not aware this funding exists. Kearney, whose business is based on helping businesses design training programs, initially worked with Tom Ricci (Body and Paint Center of Hudson; Hudson) to obtain funding for I-CAR and Verifacts training. Ricci’s shop received over $80,000. More recently, Human Power Solutions helped Fuller Auto Body of Auburn acquire $104,000 toward I-CAR training. Although a lot of legwork is involved, the end results are worth it, she explained. Obtaining money for time that employees must spend off the floor, in addition to the cost of training itself, is a benefit. “The key here is your commitment. How committed are you to your employees and to your business?” she asked. Kearney outlined the types of grants that can be pursued. With a general grant, 100 percent of training costs will be covered. The grant would be based on the budget of what I-CAR training would cost, and once the state approves, the shop will receive $25,000 in advance. She advised shop owners to consider making the investment in their employees. “Invest in them. Their livelihood comes through your shops. As you make them better people in their soft skills, you create that team culture. It makes a big difference, and people are less likely to leave you if you invest in their training.”



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New England Automotive Report

New England Automotive Report

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New England Automotive Report

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Sandra Kearney, CEO/president of Human Power Solutions, has made it her life’s work to help others thrive in better work environments. Kearney found her love for “helping companies and helping people get better at what they do” while working for a training and development company by way of her former business coach. During that time, she pursued a master’s degree in organizational leadership. A few years later, she decided to put forth her own vision and venture out on her own. In December 2019, she launched Human Power Solutions to provide training and development for small and large sized businesses. Kearney strives to always provide unparalleled customer service and is devoted to serving her clients well. “It’s about creating an engaged workforce,” shares Kearney about her company’s mission. “We work to attract, hire and retain talent for companies. We help companies create a great culture and understand that in order to do soin the auto body world, you must provide training and development skills. Body shop techs want to learn more, and as the industry changes, you should provide them with the technical training they need – but also with communication, team building and other skills that go along with running a business. “We don’t just look at the skill building side; we also work on the personal end to help employers really make a difference in their employees’ lives.” Kearney was the featured speaker at AASP/MA’s November General Membership Meeting (see page 12) where she spoke to auto body shop owners about how they can obtain funding for

by Alana Quartuccio Bonillo

I-CAR and Verifacts training from the Massachusetts workforce training fund which is financed by businesses’ tax dollars. “I noticed hospitality and technical industries, like auto body shops, weren’t being served at all. Most didn’t know this funding existed. Small shops have very thin margins,and after hearing more about how underpaid these shops are during the recent membership meeting, I have developed even more of a passion for helping auto body shops.” Because companies need to retain their staff and be able to keep up with the changing times, Kearney suggests the importance of pursuing training and development for a company’s employees. She’s helped two AASP/MA shops obtain grants for roughly $100,000 toward I-CAR and Verifacts training. Human Power Solutions also works with body shops on obtaining their OEM certifications, and the company specializes in soft skills, team building and safety training. Sandra Kearney

Human Power Solutions recently came on board as an AASP/ MA Vendor Affinity Program Silver level participant. Kearney believes full well that it is important to support associations that represent local small businesses. “AASP/MA is really trying to do the right thing on behalf of helping local businesses. I love their advocacy.” Kearney has been there herself as a small business owner and can relate to what shops deal with. “Local businesses are the lifeblood of their communities; therefore, it’s important to support associations like AASP/MA who work to support them.”




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For more information or to become a sponsor of AASP/MA please call (617) 574-0741 or email New England Automotive Report

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20 January 2022

New England Automotive Report

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by Chasidy Rae Sisk

Here Comes the Sun:

Industry Leaders Reflect on 2021 and Look Forward to a Brighter 2022 Each year brings its challenges and its triumphs, and although 2021 (like its predecessor, 2020) offered some unique hurdles, collision repair associations around the country rose to the occasion and continued to support members and the industry at-large through educational opportunities, virtual and in-person networking events and various forms of advocacy. Which efforts stood out the most for association leaders? What’s next on their agenda? New England Automotive Report sat down with Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of Massachusetts (AASP/MA) Executive Director Lucky Papageorg, Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) Executive Director Aaron Schulenburg, Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey (AASP/NJ) Executive Director Charles Bryant, Auto Body Association of Texas (ABAT) Executive Director Jill Tuggle and Washington Metropolitan Auto Body Association (WMABA) Executive Director Jordan Hendler, who graciously shared their insights on last year and their hopes for 2022.

New England Automotive Report: What was your association’s biggest accomplishment(s) in 2021? Lucky Papageorg: AASP/MA’s biggest accomplishment in 2021 was our legislative push, beginning in February, which has carried us through to where we are today with a mobilized membership whose efforts to contact their state senators and representatives resulted in convincing 90 legislators to sign onto our two bills. Aaron Schulenburg: 2021 was an interesting year as the industry continued to navigate the challenges of the pandemic and find our way back to “normal.” SCRS enjoyed several accomplishments that stand out for me, but I believe the most important activity was leading by example to help shops get back to business. We identified creative approaches for delivering useful bits of information. In addition to our Monday estimating tips, we launched a new weekly video series, Quick Tips, in January 2021 featuring Mike Anderson of Collision Advice and Danny Gredinberg from the Database Enhancement Gateway (DEG); we’ve received really fantastic feedback from the industry on the usefulness of this type of content and we’re excited about the library of material we’ve built, which is free to everyone and available at This will continue forward in 2022. Charles Bryant: One of AASP/NJ’s biggest accomplishments this year was the creation of our Health Insurance Program for AASP/ 22 January 2022

New England Automotive Report

NJ members through the Amato Insurance Agency (a division of World Insurance). The program successfully saves members of the industry and their employees so much on the cost of health insurance that other states, in addition to New Jersey, are starting to participate in the program. Jill Tuggle: ABAT’s 2021 Texas Auto Body Trade Show was our biggest accomplishment last year for two reasons. First, it actually happened!! And secondly, it was a success. We’d heard that the attendance at any kind of event or trade show was only reaching about 30 percent of what was typical, so when we hit our target number, we were thrilled. Jordan Hendler: The association’s largest accomplishment – besides surviving in pandemic times – would be publishing the Labor Rate survey. That project is one of the more relevant and important things we do, aside from keeping our membership informed and updated with the latest industry changes!

NEAR: What was the most memorable or most fun thing that your association did in 2021? LP: Our association’s last general membership meeting in November allowed us to gather face-to-face for the first time since the pandemic. The energy in the room was phenomenal, and it was great to see people in person again; everyone could feel the camaraderie, and we received a lot of positive feedback on the content discussed during the meeting. It was a great return to a sense of normality. AS: In 2020 and 2021, SCRS found ways to accommodate the transition to interacting at a digital level, but there’s simply no replacing the one-on-one interactions that happen at live events. The 2021 SEMA Show provided the perfect return to big industry events and was hugely successful, despite the obstacles we all had to overcome to make it successfully happen. The event offered the return of valuable in-person educational and business opportunities, but it was also a truly fun event that gave us all a chance to see people we haven’t had the opportunity to connect with in a while. I love this industry, the people in it, and what it represents: Helping people when their vehicle is broken and they’re in need. Our members deliver a great service to their communities, and the work for consumers can be rewarding; however, it’s also a very

difficult industry. The day-to-day can be hard, and I think the spark of excitement at the SEMA Show is a reminder of why we love working in collision repair and the automotive industry. The return to that onsite experience really re-energized all of us in a way you just won’t find anywhere else. CB: AASP/NJ’s Golf Outing is usually one of the most fun things that the AASP/NJ sponsors during the year; however, as the result of COVID-19, we decided to cancel it this year. AASP/NJ looks forward to the end of the pandemic, so we can get back to normal and conduct more memorable events for members to get together, enjoy each other’s company and create new memories. JT: We hosted a contest at the Texas Auto Body Trade Show called ABAT Big Shots where contestants could prove that they are the best in the business at a virtual welding machine, virtual paint booth, actual seam sealer applications and estimate writing. The contest was wildly popular, and plans to make it even better next year are already in the works! JH: Our golf outing is a total hoot! We have a great day of games and community, while fundraising for our industry initiatives – including our Jerry Dalton Memorial Education Fund.

NEAR: What are the biggest challenges your members are facing on a state level, and what is the association doing to address those concerns? LP: Massachusetts body shops are particularly frustrated with the lack of activity on the part of the legislature and governmental agencies, such as the Auto Damage Appraiser Licensing Board (ADALB), to address the issues we’ve been voicing with them in regard to Labor Rate and insurance appraisers’ failure to write proper estimates. AASP/MA’s efforts to circumvent these problems have taken shape in the form of our two bills: one to move the ADALB from the Division of Insurance to the Department of Professional Licensure, and the second for Labor Rate reform. We’re staying in contact with legislators and the powers-that-be to keep both issues on the front burner and try to address these concerns legislatively. AS: There are countless examples of the challenges facing collision repairers. I could go in a lot of different directions with this. But one of the difficult areas we have right now is confronting the dilemma of staffing and attracting new people into our trade. Finding ways to help people recognize the opportunities that exist in collision repair and encouraging them to see it as a career path, not just a landing spot, is an important initiative on a local and national scale. SCRS consistently works to generate awareness around this issue with our Affiliates, with other organizations within the industry, and by supporting programs like

Enterprise and Ranken Technical College’s Automotive Collision Engineering Pilot Program, which helps build better pathways for entry into the field – and that’s exactly what the collision repair industry needs. By using our voice, we can ensure that we create solutions that help schools more capably deliver on what repair businesses are seeking, find ways to help small businesses compete with larger companies for quality entry-level employees and transform this industry into a place where people WANT to pursue a career. CB: Dealing with the many challenges resulting from COVID-19 has been all-encompassing and includes concerns such as delayed first and supplemental inspections, the insurance industry’s push for photo estimating and the lack of available parts required to repair damaged vehicles. Through our research into the issue of shops preparing damage estimates based on photos without seeing the vehicle, AASP/ NJ verified that such activity is a violation of the NJ Auto Body License Law and could result in heavy fines or even suspension of the shop’s license for preparing an estimate based on photos, phone calls or any other means, other than a personal inspection of the damaged vehicle. AASP/NJ made this information available to members, and many of our members now utilize it as a weapon to refuse to participate in the photo estimating process, which has resulted in nothing more than inaccurate estimates and major delays, and it is hurting the estimating process much more than helping it.

Lucky Papageorg

Aaron Schulenburg

JT: Our problems are not few these days, but one of our biggest challenges on a state level is the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI). They sit idly and approve policies that violate the laws, rules and consumer rights that they have outlined for insurance companies to abide by. We have pleaded with them to take action to no avail. ABAT will not accept that “this is just how it is,” and we plan to challenge this issue through the use of our consumer forms, awareness campaigns and (if needed) our legal system.

Charles Bryant

JH: The membership of WMABA is facing the same challenges as all other repairers in this country. It’s an ever-changing landscape filled with hurdles, such as the rise in virtual estimating coupled to lack of adjuster education, parts or supply chain issues, rising costs of everything and the lack of qualified candidates for every position in the business. Still navigating COVID-19 and pandemic-related challenges, shops are struggling with personnel and customer relations. It’s getting “better,” but it’s not where everyone wants it. We maintain connection through events like our virtual Membership Watercooler Chats, where every month at the same time and place our members can discuss what’s happening, what’s important to them and what’s working that they can share. It’s a really positive environment, and everyone who comes loves it!

Jill Tuggle

Jordan Hendler

continued on pg. 26 New England Automotive Report

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[NATIONAL] FEATURE continued from pg. 23

NEAR: What are the biggest challenges your members are facing on a national level, and what is the association doing to address those concerns? LP: The lack of labor force available and keeping up with all the technological advances being pushed down the road on us are problems that continue to be a huge burden on our members, but another concern is the large drive toward automation in the claims writing process. Insurers have accumulated a large database of amounts that should be paid for various repairs based on point of impact and want to lump everything under one umbrella, instead of evaluating each repair on a case-by-case basis. The association is working to make consumers aware of how detrimental that cookiecutter process is to them. AASP/MA uses different forms of media, including Facebook and radio, to demonstrate how insureds are being shortchanged by their insurers and offering suggestions to help them avoid being taken advantage of. AS: Collision repairers face so many challenges, and the most obvious is the remarkable pace of technological advancement taking place with the vehicles needing repairs, while members simultaneously combat downward pressure related to what they’re charging. The transition to virtual interactions and the pressures within that only exacerbated the issues that collision repair facilities encounter in the tug of war that is the estimating and claims process. Difficult relationships became even more difficult. SCRS’ efforts with OEConnection on the Blueprint Optimization Tool (BOT) helps shops capture and document performed operations in a way that identifies the vehicle’s needs earlier in the process and reduces friction with insurance carriers by providing a way to consistently communicate what’s required. DEG is another great example of the ways that SCRS looks at challenges and creates resources to remove friction. CB: Presently, the three biggest challenges are the lack of trained technicians, the changes in repair technology and the lack of parts available to repair vehicles. AASP/NJ seeks to combat this by providing a Labor Pool where available technicians can seek employment and where members can locate potential employees when positions become available. AASP/NJ constantly hosts training opportunities to keep members aware of the technological advances taking place on modern vehicles. As far as the lack of parts availability, we are basically at a loss on how to deal with the issue but welcome suggestions. JT: I believe our two greatest challenges nationally are inflation and labor shortages. I personally believe that this record-breaking inflation in our country may be positive for our industry. For the first time, we have a widely-accepted increase in costs that cannot be argued, and this could be an opportunity for shops to finally seek proper compensation. If not, shops will need to start writing proper and thorough estimates – and stop the practice of giving away the farm just to get a job. Either option offers a favorable outcome. In the coming months, we will be encouraging shops to keep their Labor Rates posted and current as well as providing instructions on how to properly fill out Labor Rate surveys. The shrinking pool of technicians has been the broken-record issue for years, but 26 January 2022

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now it is compounded with the fact that we can’t even fill general positions, such as cashiers, detailers and administrative roles. We are addressing the issue by educating shops on how to better equip and train their staff so that they want to stay employed at their shop as well as using social media sites to connect job seekers to employers. JH: We are one of the associations that finds participation at national meetings to be crucial to our survival. Not only do we see what’s coming down the pike, we also made connections with toplevel companies and insurers which come in handy when we have a local issue. Having those relationships has been a huge benefit to our members who find themselves in a bind, either with a customer, vendor or insurer. It’s been one of the greatest untapped gold mines of our group!

NEAR: What are your association’s top priorities as we move into 2022? LP: In 2022, AASP/MA will continue promoting our Labor Rate bill and our bill to move the ADALB, and we hope to see these issues positively addressed through legislation. We’ll also continue to concentrate on increasing consumer awareness, and in order to be successful at both of those objectives, we look to increase the number of active association members to strengthen and amplify our voice. AS: Regardless of the year, SCRS’ priorities remain the same: Finding ways to advance the industry in meaningful ways! I expect 2022 to bring a lot more of that as we find opportunities to use our size, voice and people’s respect for the organization to influence the industry in a way that improves it for the people we serve at a business level as well as the consumers they serve. We hope to produce more information, share more educational opportunities and promote advocacy efforts to ensure there’s a voice for every person and business in this industry. We’ve got some ambitious projects in mind that we can’t wait to share, but everything we do begins with the collision repair professionals around the country. There’s a lot of information coming down the pipeline, and if you’re not already subscribed to our YouTube channel and following trade publications like New England Automotive Report, don’t miss out! You don’t want to be one of the shops that isn’t privy to all the changes coming because you weren’t following along, and if you are paying attention, make sure that you’re sharing the information with your peers. SCRS members and supporters often ask how they can contribute in a meaningful way, and the most impactful thing you can do is carry the water: Help others access the knowledge we bring, because the more knowledgeable we are collectively, the stronger this industry becomes. Challenges will always exist, but we find out who we are as an industry in the ways that we rise up to address them. CB: AASP/NJ’s top priority is to maintain the many member programs that we have established to assist our members with any issue that comes up during the normal course of doing business, such as our Labor Pool, Equipment Exchange, Hit and Run Program, discounted Health Insurance Program and the AASP/NJ Hotline, which is available to answer members’ questions and assist with any situation that may arise, all day, every day.

JT: In 2022, ABAT hopes to lay the groundwork for a successful 88th legislative session during this interim year and to make positive change by forcing the TDI to finally behave like the unbiased and consumer protection agency that it is supposed to be. On their website, you can view their “promise” to consumers: “We recognize our responsibilities to both consumers and the insurance industry. We work to fulfill our legislative mandate to regulate the insurance industry while protecting the people and businesses that are served by insurance. We pledge to provide high quality service to all our customers.” We just want them to uphold this promise. JH: WMABA is 50-plus years old now, and we need to reinvent ourselves in this new world, just like repairers do. It’s important that we deliver meaningful education and information to our members, along with opportunities for them to have more “community experiences.” We haven’t been the talk of the town for quite some time, and I really want to see us get back to a place where we are the first line of defense - the first place repairers go with questions. Even if we don’t have the actual answer, I guarantee we know how to find it! With these association leaders at the helm, the future of the collision repair industry looks bright for 2022 and beyond. We at Thomas Greco Publishing are grateful for their efforts and for all our readers. We wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR! PROTECTING CONSUMERS AND THE COLLISION INDUSTRY


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New England Automotive Report

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How Do Your Shop’s Experiences Compare?

New England Automotive Report’s

Inaugural Survey Results Part One

Collision repair shops contend with more challenges than many industries on a regular basis, but the past couple years have seen unprecedented developments - from technological advances to the increasing prevalence of OEM certifications to escalating concerns with insurers, it seems like you’re forced to deal with all of it. But you’re not alone in your frustrations! How are other shops in Massachusetts attracting new talent? Are they experiencing the same parts delays? Does anyone in the Commonwealth collect an acceptable Labor Rate? The answers to these questions and many more fill the following pages, so keep reading to check out the results of the inaugural New England Automotive Report Industry Survey. Thank you to all the shops who participated in this survey. We hope that you find this information enlightening and useful. How long have you been in business? 1-5 years: 3% 6-10 years: 3% More than 10 years: 94% Are you on a referral or program? Referral: 9% Program: 12% Both: 27% No: 52%

If you selected “yes” to being on a referral, how many referrals are you on? 1-5: 83% 6-10: 17% More than 10: 0% If you selected “yes” to being on a program, how many programs are you on? 1-5: 100% 6-10: 0% More than 10: 0% How many employees do you have, including yourself? 1-5: 27% 6-10: 27% 11-20: 37% More than 20: 9% What is the age of your oldest employee? 30-40: 0% 41-50: 6% Over 50: 94% continued on pg. 32 New England Automotive Report

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[NEW ENGLAND AUTOMOTIVE REPORT] 2021 INDUSTRY SURVEY RESULTS continued from pg. 31 What is the age of your youngest employee? 18-25: 64% 26-35: 18% Over 35: 18% How many employees have you hired in the last year? None: 18% 1: 43% 2-4: 33% 5 or more: 6% How many employees have you lost in the past year? None: 33% 1: 24% 2-4: 40% 5 or more: 3% Where do you look to hire new employees? Word of mouth/referrals: 39% Online: 42% Local vocational schools: 21% Everywhere: 9% Not searching: 9% Articles have been written and songs have been sung about the ongoing technician shortage. It seems that fresh talent is nowhere to be found, yet 82 percent of survey respondents indicated that they hired at least one person in the past year, which begs the question – how did you find them?! The answer seems to be “perseverance.” Of the 39 percent of shop owners who reported hiring at least two employees, 62 percent indicated that they look multiple places to find qualified workers, but their efforts appear to be paying off! Of course, that’s not the case for everyone; one shop owner who lost an employee this year admitted, “I’ve given up for now,” while another lamented, “It’s just about impossible to find workers at all.” Have you found difficulty in refilling positions due to the COVID-19 pandemic? Yes: 67% No: 33% Although some survey participants believe that the pandemic has presented additional challenges when it comes to refilling positions, blaming unemployment extensions and “a lot of excuses,” 32 January 2022

the majority believe that the hiring difficulties they’ve faced correlates directly to the suppression of Labor Rates in Massachusetts. Some of their comments included: “It’s difficult to fill a position at ANY time, due to low pay.” “Employees expect higher wages based on other industries, but our ability to pay has remained the same.” “Nobody wants to work for the salary we are able to offer.” How has your ability to attract and retain employees changed over the past year? While 24 percent of respondents indicated that they’ve seen no change in their ability to attract or retain employees, 38 percent of that group also acknowledged their internal efforts that have improved their ability to hire and retain employees, such as by investing in tools, equipment and training and through team building activities. One shop owner suggested, “Paying them a higher salary gets them in the door and keeps the current employees here.” But that’s not always possible. In fact, 21 percent of surveyed shop owners feel that their inability to offer higher wages prevents them from attracting quality employees. “Most want more than I can afford to pay, plus I cannot offer the benefits that other trades can offer them,” one shop owner acknowledged. “The margins are too tight; I can’t pay these guys what they are truly worth,” another shop owner agreed. Conversely, some survey participants (18 percent) believe the problem lies in a lack of skilled workers, while 21 percent blame a lack of interest in the trade. “Nobody wants to work,” one shop owner claimed. “Sign-on bonuses aren’t even attracting prospects.” Several respondents suggested that “Many are leaving our industry for better opportunities.” What is the annual salary of your lowestlevel employee? Less than $25,000: 6% $25,000-$35,000: 39% $35,001-$45,000: 39% $45,001-$55,000: 13% $55,001-$65,000: 3%

New England Automotive Report

What is the annual salary of your highestlevel employee? $50,001-$70,000: 39% $70,001-$80,000: 16% $80,001-$99,999: 16% $100,000 or more: 29% Are you familiar with AASP/MA’s legislative agenda for the current session? Yes: 100% No: 0% Do you feel that your customers care about the issues facing the collision repair industry? Yes: 46% No: 54% Survey participants were nearly equally divided on this issue, and although several responses suggested that consumers have noticed the low Labor Rates written on insurer estimates, others disagreed: “They already think it’s too expensive.” “Unfortunately, many think we are just whining. They see thousands of dollars in costs and think, ‘They must be making money.’” “Most consumers just want their vehicle fixed with little hassle. Safety takes a back seat because the customer is not informed.” As an industry, how do you think we can better educate customers? About half of surveyed shops agreed that the responsibility for educating customers falls on the shop on a case-bycase basis, but others suggested that more can be done, such as “Ask all TV stations to do a special investigation segment on this topic,” send standardized emails and utilize targeted social media messaging. “Shops must be educated first,” a respondent noted. “Then, the shop needs to educate their customers.” Alternately, one shop owner believes the answer is simply refusing to entertain the insurers: “Stay away from insurer programs completely so we are all on the same playing field. Get certified so you have the respect that will make customers listen to you.”


What do you think is the most pressing issue affecting shops today? Not surprisingly, over half of survey respondents indicated that the suppression of the Labor Rate in Massachusetts has the largest impact on their businesses currently, especially in combination with trying to stay up-to-date with the technological evolution occurring on modern vehicles. “The fact that our operating costs have significantly increased without the Labor Rate increasing has made profitability and obtaining new required equipment very challenging,” a participant observed. The staffing shortage, lack of available parts and issues with insurance companies also continue to negatively affect shops. Are you currently certified/recognized by an OEM to perform collision repairs? Yes: 38% No, but I’m working toward it: 27% No, and I do not plan to become certified/recognized: 35% If you answered that you ARE certified / recognized by one or more OEMs, please list them below. Certified shops mentioned a dozen manufacturers for which they’ve received the necessary training, tools and equipment to achieve their certification. The most prevalent OEM certifications referenced by survey participants included Nissan, Subaru and Honda/Acura. If you answered that you ARE certified / recognized by one or more OEMs, what is your incentive to continue with the program? OEM certification can offer many benefits for shops. Survey participants indicated that the main incentives for maintaining their status with these programs include access to the OEM repair information that allows them to ensure they’re making safe and proper repairs, improved access to parts needed for those repairs and leverage that can be used when billing insurers. The image it presents to consumers is another important incentive for these shops. “We receive recognition from the customers, insurers and our industry as a qualified collision repair facility who is

committed to quality and safe repairs,” one shop owner commented. One of his peers agreed: “It places us a level above the competition in the eyes of the consumer and insurance carriers.”

Over the past year, have your sales increased, decreased or stayed the same? Increased: 54% Decreased: 11% Stayed the same: 35%

How do you feel OEM certification programs will impact your business? My business will be affected in a POSITIVE way: 58% My business will be affected in a NEGATIVE way: 11% My business will not be affected: 31% More than half of survey participants indicated that their businesses will be impacted positively by OEM certification. Those who do not believe their businesses will be affected offered comments: “If the OEMs would provide actual hands-on training and check on the shops on their program, then the OEM programs would most likely be beneficial. As of now, they are just another form of DRP with the same players on them. VERY FEW of the OEM certified shops even follow the manufacturer’s repair manuals.” “Unfortunately, OEMs are more concerned about aligning with insurers rather than our industry. They are not as loyal to the collision repair industry as the collision repair industry is loyal to them.” “I will not even entertain one certification until Labor Rates are brought to a level to justify the added expense.” A shop owner who believes OEM certification will negatively impact his business offered a similar viewpoint: “We as shops can spend thousands of dollars getting certified to fix a certain brand. The cost is too much.” How would you rate your current state of business? 1-3: 4% 4-6: 39% 7-8: 41% 9-10: 16% Survey respondents rated their current state of business at an average of 6.7. While four percent of responses indicated business is at its worst (a score of one), no one gave a “best” score of 10.

Businesses worldwide took a huge hit last year when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but as restrictions eased up in 2021, employees returned to the office. With more vehicles on the road, over half of surveyed shops reported an increase in business and more than a third remained stagnant, while only 11 percent saw a decrease in business this past year. In your experience, which insurer do you find the most difficult to deal with, and why? Shop owners identified 10 insurers in response to this question, but the three most commonly mentioned carriers were Allstate, GEICO and MAPFRE. “GEICO and Progressive have been my most difficult to deal with because they’re not interested in a quality repair.” “Allstate writes for the use of the lowest possible parts prices from multiple vendors – including vendors that are located outside of our state!” “MAPFRE and GEICO are neck and neck; they attempt to dictate the repair process, regardless of their ignorance of proper repair methods. They break the laws and are a general nuisance.” “We do not accept work from Allstate or State Farm as they do not send appraisers out to inspect the vehicles, and they baulk at Massachusetts appraisal law.” One survey respondent expressed sympathy for insurance appraisers: “I get along with their staff appraisers. Many of them understand our concerns, but they can’t pay because their hands are tied by the claim handlers.” Additional insurers who were identified as creating difficulties for shops include Vermont Mutual, State Farm, Progressive, Travelers, Liberty Mutual, USAA and Hanover; however, 15 percent of survey participants make no differentiation between insurers. continued on pg. 36

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[NEW ENGLAND AUTOMOTIVE REPORT] 2021 INDUSTRY SURVEY RESULTS continued from pg. 33 “They’re all the same,” one repairer claimed. “Faster, cheaper…Hooray for them and the hell with the body shop and their own policyholders.” “They constantly mislead customers, twist truths and sometimes flat out lie about regulations,” another repairer agreed. What is the current Labor Rate you are being reimbursed by insurers? Less than $40: 12% $40-$59: 88% $60-$79: 0% $80 or more: 0% While a handful of shops (nine percent) acknowledged that they are reimbursed at higher rates by certain insurers on specific vehicles/repairs, all surveyed respondents indicated that the common Labor Rate paid by insurance companies to shops in the Commonwealth hovers around the $40 mark. Several shops are receiving as low as $39, while a few outliers’ Labor Rates begin as high as $42. This travesty justifies one survey respondent’s belief that:

“The auto body industry is on a borrowed lifeline here in Massachusetts. Shops will be forced to close or sell if the industry does not receive a competitive Labor Rate like that of other trade industries. We cannot compete for good employees since they can receive better pay and benefits in a different industry.

"The auto body industry is on a borrowed lifeline here in Massachusetts." Today’s vehicles are more complex than ever, and accurate repairs to ensure occupant safety is a must; however, that requires major investments in training, tooling and equipment, which is harder than ever to afford and is simply not an option for many shops. Yet, we MUST repair vehicles properly and safely – not just for mutual liability reasons, but due to the simple fact that we owe it to our customers, friends,

families and neighbors who are fellow motorists within the communities we serve. “There is only one solution to keep the auto body industry from going extinct in Massachusetts: An immediate real Labor Rate increase that puts the industry within the competitive landscape financially to operate our businesses as necessary to attract and hire qualified employees who can make this industry a career, rather than a stepping stone job,” he continued. “The time has passed to discuss and negotiate what the Labor Rate should be. ACTION IS A MUST. We are all out of time!” What do you think your Labor Rate should be? $50-$59: 23% $60-$79: 42% $80-$99: 23% $100 or more: 12%

Look for Part Two of our Inaugural Survey in the February Issue of New England Automotive Report. PROTECTING CONSUMERS AND THE COLLISION INDUSTRY






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38 January 2022

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[LEGAL] PERSPECTIVE by James A. Castleman, Esq.

Who Has the Right to Authorize Repairs? I received an urgent call from a collision repair shop owner a few weeks ago. A young woman sitting in his waiting room had been angrily screaming at him, telling him that he had no right to repair her car. Despite the fact that the vehicle was half repaired and taken apart, with a fender sitting on the floor waiting to be painted, the woman was demanding that the shop put the car back together so she could take it somewhere else – even though the shop had a signed repair order. The problem was that the woman owned the car, but she was not the person who had brought the vehicle into the shop and signed the repair order. Rather, her “no good brother” brought the car to the shop and signed the authorization to repair without checking with her first. The vehicle owner’s anger stemmed from her belief that the shop owner had convinced her brother to authorize unnecessary, expensive repairs. She further argued that her brother had no right to authorize the repairs since he did not own the vehicle. The shop owner asked if the woman could really demand that the car be put together and released to her. Moreover, did he have the right to get paid at least for the repairs that had been made and the parts that had been purchased? After all, he did have a signed repair order in his hand. Unfortunately, the answer was unclear. I suggested that the shop owner try to negotiate something with the woman, get her to agree to at least some portion of the cost of the repairs that he had made and do what she wanted – i.e. put the car together and let her take it out of there. That is what he did. And by being a calm and skilled negotiator, he convinced the woman to agree to pay for a greater amount of the repairs than I might have guessed. The shop did not make much money on the repairs, but at least, it did not lose money, and the shop owner avoided having to further deal with a customer who would never have been happy with his shop. This was not the first time that I had run into this problem. In fact, this was the second shop owner that had called me with the same issue within a few weeks – except that the other shop owner had been yelled at by a woman complaining about her “no good boyfriend” instead of her brother. And this is an issue that I have run into, in one form or another, many times over the years. Who can authorize repairs? Is the vehicle owner the only person who can authorize repairs? No. But if they are not the one providing the authorization, then a repair shop should be wary and should make sure that the person authorizing repairs has the right to do so. 40 January 2022

New England Automotive Report

Under the Massachusetts Attorney General’s consumer protection regulations, if a customer authorizes repairs in the manner set out in the regulation (and if other requirements of the regulation are met), the shop can charge the customer for the authorized repairs. But who is the “customer”? Arguably, the “no good brother” and “no good boyfriend” who brought someone else’s car in for repairs are the shops’ customers. After all, they did bring in damaged cars and did sign repair orders. They may well be personally liable for the cost of the repairs that they authorized and that were made. After all, the shops made repairs in good faith, relying on what they had been told – repairs for which the brother and boyfriend signed contracts. Unfortunately for the repair shops in both of these cases, it is also quite possible that the car owners themselves are not liable for the cost of repairs, and it is likely that the shops would not have an enforceable garage keeper’s lien against the vehicles that they repaired. Nor would the shop have the right to demand that an insurer covering the repairs pay the shop directly for those repairs, even if the brother or boyfriend signed a “direction to pay” form. No shop owner wants to be in a position where they are chasing an individual to try to get paid – particularly an individual who does not own the car and who may be unable to come up with the funds needed to pay. In order for the vehicle owner to be liable for the cost of repairs, or for a garage keeper’s lien against a car to be valid (as set out in the applicable statute), a damaged vehicle needs to be brought to a shop either by the owner “or with the consent of ” the owner. By the same token, generally under Massachusetts law, for the vehicle owner to be the “customer” who is liable under the repair contract, the vehicle owner must authorize the repairs – either personally or through a proxy who has their consent to do so. How does a repair shop know whether someone has the owner’s consent to authorize repairs? It is not always easy for a shop to know whether the person they are dealing with is the owner of a vehicle, or if the person they are dealing with has the consent of the vehicle owner to authorize repairs. A good place to start, however, is simply to check the vehicle’s registration, a document that all drivers are required to have with them or in an easily accessible location. Who is named as the registered owner, and is that the person with whom you are dealing? If the person that you are dealing with is not the person named on the registration, the next thing to do is to ask the continued on pg. 42

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[LEGAL] PERSPECTIVE continued from pg. 40 person sitting in your shop directly if they have the owner’s permission to contract for repairs; however, even if they claim to have permission, you should follow up with a phone call to the registered owner to ensure that the person whom you are dealing with does have their authority. It does not matter if the person whom you are dealing with is the owner’s spouse, their parent or their “no good” brother or boyfriend. It is prudent to make that phone call, just in case. You think that you have never had this problem and that you are unlikely ever to have it? That’s what I heard from the two shop owners that called me with their problem, and it is something that I hear often from shop owners who call me with a problem. Believe me: It does happen. Leased vehicles can present additional problems. Many car leases have provisions that require the lessee to make repairs to a damaged vehicle and authorize the lessee to contract for repairs. But this is not the case with all leases, and some leases require the lessor to approve all repairs. The problem is that you don’t know what the particular lease says when that car is sitting in your repair shop, and chances are that the lessee doesn’t know either. The only way to make sure that you are going to get paid for the repairs you make is to contact the lessor and ask them what their policy is. The issue also arises when you negotiate repairs with a customer’s insurer and then proceed to make those repairs without letting your customer know what repairs are needed and what you negotiated – and again, specifically obtaining the customer’s authority for those repairs. No matter what an insurer tries to tell you, the insurer’s agreement to pay for negotiated repairs (whether on an original appraisal or on a supplemental appraisal) does not bind your customer and does not bind you. Only your customer can authorize what repairs they want you to make. Under Massachusetts law, your customer has the right to pocket the insurer’s claim payment check and make whatever agreement they want with you for repairs. Or the customer can choose to have no repairs made at all, cash the claim payment check and pour it into the slots at Foxwoods. Of course, in that situation, neither you nor your customer can represent to the insurer that all repairs were made according to their appraisal, and the insurer has the right to reduce the insured’s actual cash value of the vehicle by the amount of repairs not made. But that does not change the fact that your customer, not their insurer, is the only one able to authorize repairs to their vehicle. The question of authority to contract for repairs may also arise if a vehicle is owned by a business. If a corporation or an LLC owns the car, who within that entity has the authority to sign repair contracts or otherwise authorize repairs? If it is a small company, it may be worth a few minutes to check the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s website to see who the officers of the entity are. Notably, for a business, you are probably in a better position than with an individual car owner. One reason for that is because businesses are usually not covered by the Attorney General’s consumer protection regulations; they are businesses, not consumers. Additionally, unlike individuals, businesses generally 42 January 2022

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can be held liable if the person with whom you are dealing has apparent authority to authorize repairs – and that is a relatively easy (yet not universally achievable) standard to meet. Even so, it still may be worth your while to make a call to the business to make sure that they are aware that the vehicle is at your shop and that the person with whom you are dealing has their consent to authorize repairs. What can you do if you discover that the person whom you are dealing with does not have the vehicle owner’s consent to authorize repairs? The answer to this question depends on when you make that discovery. If it occurs at any time before you have started repairs, then you can either try to get the owner to personally authorize the repairs, or you can just refuse to make the repairs. This applies whether the person who authorized repairs is an individual (again the “no good brother”) or the customer’s insurer. Once repairs have begun, you can still try to get the vehicle owner to agree to the repairs or affirm that they authorized the person with whom you are dealing to contract for repairs. It does not matter that the owner did not authorize the repairs in advance. If, after the fact, they affirm that they agree or affirm that the person has authority for them, the owner will then be liable. This will be easiest to accomplish when no dispute has arisen, i.e. before the angry young woman is standing in your shop and screaming at you. If you do find yourself faced with the irate car owner, demanding that you stop repairs and release their vehicle, then the best advice that I can suggest is to do what that shop owner who recently called me did: Try to remain calm, but point out that you acted in good faith and that you spent time making repairs and spent money paying for parts. If you can negotiate a final figure that you and they can live with, take it, let the car go and be thankful that you got something for the repairs that you made and that you do not have to deal any further with that unhappy car owner. Conclusion Please continue to be aware that the only people who can authorize that repairs be made to a vehicle brought to your shop are the vehicle owner or someone who has the consent of the vehicle owner. Do not just assume that the person with whom you are dealing has proper authority. Instead, protect yourself. Whether or not it has happened to you in the past, it can still happen in the future, possibly even with the next car that comes into your shop! PROTECTING CONSUMERS AND THE COLLISION INDUSTRY


Attorney James Castleman is a managing member of Paster, Rice & Castleman, LLC in Quincy, MA. He can be reached at (617) 472-3424 or at

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781-762-9210 800-559-9210 E-MAIL:

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EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE continued from pg. 6 intimidate and coerce not only the shop, but also the vehicle owner, to yield to their will rather than do what is right. What is right is for the insurer to live up to their obligation under the indemnification policy they have sold. I know that as you are reading this, the time for making a New Year’s resolution has passed by. I would like to suggest that you consider adding one anyway: Resolve to make a change going forward. Resolve that you do not succumb to the “learned helplessness” which has become all too prevalent in our industry. As a member of AASP/MA, continue your efforts day in and day out to correct what we all know to be injustices. Answer the call when we ask you to contact your legislator about our two legislative bills. Host a legislator in your shop. Also, come to meetings, get involved and take advantage of the value-added benefits we have developed for you. If you are not a member of the “Alliance,” stop being part of the problem, add your voice and support to AASP/MA’s efforts “to protect consumers and the collision industry.” Remember, no single individual is stronger than all of us! AASP/ MA is working every day to make this industry all that it can be: A place where consumers, shop owners and technicians are treated properly and compensated adequately when a vehicle has been involved in a collision loss. Resolve to fill out the membership application on Page 7. If you’re a non-member who has it in your mind that AASP/MA is not accomplishing anything, you could not be more wrong. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me directly. PROTECTING CONSUMERS AND THE COLLISION INDUSTRY




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New England Automotive Report

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