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Dealing with an insurance company as a non DRP


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Hey guys and gals (if i'm not the only gal on here lol)!

I have a questions for the other shop owners or estimators on the forum. Lately i've been dealing with a lot of headaches from insurance companies dragging their feet because we are not a "preferred" shop on their network. This one in particular that i'm dealing with is just driving me nuts. Breakdown of the ordeal: Customer dropped off their vehicle on 2/11/17 which was a Saturday. I called their insurance to notify them of the drop off the same day. Got ahold of someone on the 14th on when they could send someone out to inspect. Was instructed to write up my own estimate and take photos and submit it to their claim email and that because we are not a "preferred" shop, it could take 7-10 days for review. That was completed the same day (14th). I've followed up with them on the 16th to confirm the estimate and photos were received. Adjuster said that it didnt look like it was so I forwarded it over to her. I sent photos via a google drive link that allows others to view the photos. She said she was having issues so I just sent them as attachments. Finally worked for her and said it was forwarded to the person set to review... this was on the 16th. Yesterday, I emailed to check for status and was told that the person reviewing cannot see the pictures. This had me fuming. WHY was I not contacted back on the 16th or the 17th stating that? Why did I only hear it when I reached out. I resent photos, adjuster confirmed she received them and had forwarded them over again. Hours later asked if she had a confirmation that the reviewer was able to view and received a "well she hasnt contacted me back so that would mean that there isnt any issue..." if thats the truth then did she not send an email back on the 16th saying she couldnt view them? And if she did, why did I only find out on the 23rd when I reached out??!! I emailed a lengthy stern email requesting the reviewers info and the adjusters supervisors info... here we are 22 hours later, no reply. So after all that.... i'm afraid that it will still take another 7-10 days to review and another 7-10 for payment. My question here is, am I entitled to any storage fees because of their lack of concern and being put on the back burner because we arent a DRP shop of theirs? The customer is very patient but I am not. Especially when I hear the insurance adjuster straight out tell me, "oh you arent our preferred shop? its going to take longer then"... talk about steering tactics. Anyone have any words of wisdom on what I can do at this point? Am I in the right to request storage? Is there any law that I can cite to make them straighten up? I am in southern California if that helps. Thanks in advance!!!

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As a frequent autobody shop user (just a few panels short of all 4 sides and tops), I've sought out non-DRP shops.   I did this because I wanted someone on my side and that someone was not going to be my insurance company.  I guess, this boils down to whether or not your customers are educated about DRP and in my experience, most are not.  I'd sell them on the advantages, and enlist the customer on your side and then wait.  The fact that the insurance company is immediately making it harder not to use their preferred vendor will convince many customers to choose a different shop as some will not want the aggravation.  Keep the customer apprised of the status and let them help with beating up the insurance company.   My insurer, State Farm, is only a day or two extra once the work starts and less than a week for the initial work.    Of course, they are johnny on the spot, if your customer is owed towing.   Some are worse than others. 

I'd ask why are you fighting it?  I've seen some shops really embrace and promote their independence, but they have to have customer buy-in.  It's their standard way of steering work to preferred shop so that they can reduce their costs.   It's in their best interest for you to be mad and they hope the customer is only mad at your for not being a preferred shop.   Again, prep the customer for the lies to be told by the insurance company and they'll call BS on the them for you.    I think (guess) that non-DRP shops mostly provide better repairs because they have better cost recovery methods vs insurance cost controls slammed down the DRP shops.   I remember reading that @Marksas has a body shop and he can give you better advice.

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@Chucks Creations Autobody

My answer is a bit unorthodox but it will give you a bit better understanding of the dispute resolution process.

Take the Jurisdictionary.com course, through it you will learn how claims are resolved in court. You will understand how to make decision based on facts and evidence, and how the legal process works.

With this information, you will be able to see how the insurance company people may be giving you the run around for their own benefit, and what they may have against your customer in evidence that may get them off the hook from paying the claim.

Savvy insurance adjusters know how to push the boundaries and what tricks they can use to get away with paying the minimum amount possible, and even avoiding liability if they can help it.

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We deal with this quite frequently. We are a DRP for various carriers but we are also not afraid to kick them to the curb if they don't want to play fair. We would not let any one of them add up to more than 15% of our sales. Fortunately most of our bodyshop customers are a result of of Mechanic shop where we already have a relationship with the customer so there is already a level of trust and we have a longstanding great reputation in the community we serve. We educate the customer on the carefully worded word tracks used by the carrier. These word tracks are done in such a way as to attempt to create doubt in the consumers mind about the shop they chose for their repairs if you are not a "preferred" shop. Once we have done that the customer is on guard for the insurer's tactics and is soon as the hear them they know what to do to shut it down. The best thing I have found is to use email and CC the customer in all correspondence. We will also let the carrier know in the body of the email that we have included the customer as to keep them apprised of all aspects of the repair process. From that point forward the delays are not our problem because we did not choose the carrier. The customer will be on your side, especially if they can see the email, look at pictures and open any attachments. The customer is rarely ever upset with us because of delays and it changes how most Carriers handle the claim, especially if they are an insured. 

This problem is no doubt getting worse and worse with carriers using third party estimate audit services, video estimates and more and more used parts thus slowing the repair process down while increasing our administrative burden. We just document all contact and have no problem holding a car till payment is secured even if it means sitting on the car for a week after repairs are completed.

When it comes to a carrier actually succeeding in convincing a customer to move the car to another repair shop, you can get very creative in storage, vehicle preservation fees, admin fees and whatever else you creatively can come u with to make it very expensive for them to move the car. In some cases you make more than you would have if you actually repair the vehicle.  I realize you are in CA so the laws are different as to what you can and cannot do.  

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  • 2 weeks later...

Nothing wakes up insurance companies like storage charges. Day 1 starts right after it was dropped off. We don't do body work but we store cars here all the time. Easiest money ever. I'm not sure if you can charge if you do the work, check with a neighbor. 

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      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
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