DRP’s What is this and what should I know about them.

Below is an article published on the Vehicle Information Services website. It’s a really good read and should be mandatory if your vehicle is in a collision or has been damaged by a hail storm.

 

 

Direct Repair Programs and Repair Guarantees: Steering In Disguise?


If you have recently been involved in a motor vehicle accident, you may have discussed which repair facility will be fixing your car with either your own insurer or with the insurer of the person who caused the accident. Most people are, thankfully, involved in collisions so infrequently that they do not have a repair facility immediately in mind when it does happen. When there is an accident, however, be careful where you do take the car to be fixed. Simply because an insurer recommends a shop or says that it will “guarantee the work” from a shop in its direct repair program does not mean you will be receiving the best repair.

What are direct repair programs?

A direct repair program, or “DRP” as they are often called, is an automobile insurer’s group of preferred repair shops. Think of a DRP like a health insurer’s circle of preferred provider organizations. Body shops involved in an insurer’s program have a relationship with the insurer. That relationship, however, can be based on many different things, not all of which are good for consumers.

Direct repair programs promote the insurers’ best interests, not the consumers’.

DRP arrangements are initiated by insurers, not body shops, and insurers have their own reasons for desiring to create these circles. To become a member of an insurer’s repair program, repair facilities typically must execute an “agreement” with the insurer. However, this agreement spells out obligations on the part of the repair facility but usually does not contain any reciprocal obligations on the part of the insurer. Some of the key standard provisions require the repairer to write all estimates using aftermarket (non-original equipment manufacturer) or salvage parts; identify “betterment” to a repaired vehicle and collect those monies from the customer; shoulder all liability for repairs performed; and indemnify the insurer from any lawsuit the customer might bring. In other words, the body shop is entirely responsible for any customer dissatisfaction.

In exchange, the repairer receives what exactly? According to the terms of these “agreements”, the insurer promises the repairer nothing in return for all of the obligations it will undertake. The repairers usually do not even have the right to advertise that they are part of the insurer’s direct repair program. For example, State Farm’s Service First Agreement expressly prohibits repairers from using either State Farm’s name or its Service First designation without “express written permission from State Farm” . . . which must be “in the form of a Licensing Agreement, to be executed separately from this Agreement”. (State Farm Service First Agreement, paragraph 9.) However, this same paragraph expressly allows, but does not require, State Farm to advertise to its customers that the repair facility is a member of its direct repair program.

The obvious question raised is: Why would any repairer sign up to be a member of these programs when the insurer has no overt obligation to do anything on behalf of the repair facility? The only sensible answer is that the repairer believes becoming a member of the DRP will drive more work to its shop. And therein lies the rub.

Steering in disguise

Some state laws prohibit insurers from forcing consumers to have their cars repaired at particular body shops. Engaging in that conduct is called “steering”, and there are anti-steering statutes to prevent insurers from removing free choice and free enterprise from customers of the repair industry. Nonetheless, while insurers are quick to say that they do not require claimants to patronize particular shops, they do strongly recommend the use of repair facilities within their provider programs. Claimants are frequently told that, while they are free to select any shop of their choosing, the insurer will only “guarantee” the repair work of a DRP facility. The insurer’s “guarantee” is material to most claimants and has the effect of steering their work to DRP facilities and away from independent shops. So, whether the insurer insists you take your vehicle to a particular shop or lures you there with guarantee promises that sound as if you will get more than taking your car elsewhere, the end result is the same. You elected a shop which has pre-negotiated with the insurer to repair your car using generic or salvage parts, is required to identify and charge you for purported increases in value to your car, and has promised to insulate the insurer from liability for the work performed.

Insurers are not actually guaranteeing repair work.

Although claimants are told the insurer will be “guaranteeing” the repair work, the insurer does not actually guarantee that work. Instead, under these DRP arrangements, the shop is required to perform that repair in a workmanlike manner – which state common law already requires of all repair facilities, irrespective of whether they are DRP shops, and it is the shop, not the insurer, who guarantees the work. Insurers do not guarantee that the method of repair is safe, nor do they guarantee how the repair is performed.

The only aspect of the repair that the insurer actually “guarantees” is limited to the parts used – and then it only covers the generic ones. Under DRP arrangements insurers require repair facilities to write estimates using aftermarket and salvage parts. Parts made by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) are excluded from the promises insurers make about the repair.

Yet, even these generic parts are not fully covered in the guarantee. Reviewing estimates and documents from several insurers demonstrates that some guarantee only the fit and corrosion resistance of the replacement part, not its performance. Others guarantee the performance of the part, but only after the claimant has exhausted attempts to have the manufacturer repair or replace the part under its own warranty. Makers of aftermarket parts are typically located in Asia and enforcement of a warranty is extremely difficult as a result. This was one of the primary issues in the aftermarket parts case, Avery v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, 321 Ill. App.3d 269, 254 Ill. Dec. 194, 746 N.E.2d 1242 (2001), appeal allowed, 201 Ill.2d 560, 271 Ill. Dec. 922, 786 N.E.2d 180 (2002), in which State Farm was found to have breached its insurance contracts with policy holders by guaranteeing replacement parts and later refusing to honor the guarantee until after the customers exhausted their warranty rights with the manufacturer. In the appellate decision, the Avery court found State Farm’s promise to repair or replace these parts was illusory.

Conflicts of interest

The significant problem with patronizing a DRP facility, however, is the conflict of interest the DRP relationship creates for the repairer in its obligations to customers. State consumer protection laws firmly establish the contract of repair is between the customer and the body shop. The insurer is not a party to that contract. However, DRP arrangements make the insurer more important to the body shop than the customer by virtue of the fact that the insurer will be a constant source of referral business, and the consumer’s interests can become secondary to the facility. For example, DRP arrangements often require the repair facility to look for and determine “betterment” to your vehicle and to collect that alleged increase in value directly from you. Ordinarily, the issue of betterment is addressed between the insurer and the claimant, and the repair facility would not be involved. With a DRP arrangement, however, the body shop is obligated to calculate betterment (which is in the insurer’s interest, not the customer’s) and collect it on behalf of the insurer. These arrangements clearly make the body shop responsive to the insurer, not to you — even though you are the legal customer. It is exactly these types of shifting loyalties and conflicting obligations that have members of the repair industry concerned. According to Wade Ebert, a Regional Director of the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of Illinois and a principal of American Auto Body in Springfield, Illinois, if you patronize a DRP facility, “Someone is making concessions on your behalf, without your knowledge.”

Advice for consumers

Look warily at any insurer’s recommendation of a repair facility because the insurer is pushing you toward certain shops for its benefit, not necessarily yours. Ask the body shop if it is a member of the insurer’s direct repair program and, if so, to provide you with a copy of the document establishing that relationship and outlining the repairer’s obligations to the insurer. Remember, you are the customer in this repair contract and you are entitled to a proper repair from the shop you elect. If any shop balks at showing you the agreement it signed with the insurer, insist on obtaining a copy from the shop or the insurer directly. If neither party will produce a copy of the agreement for your records, take your vehicle to a different shop. After all, if this arrangement is really such a great thing for consumers, no party to it should have any concerns about showing it proudly to customers.

news-flash

Amazing Paintless Dent Repair

Recently a local San Antonio resident contacted us through our Facebook page inquiring about a dent they needed repaired using our paintless dent repair method. He sent us a picture of the dented panel that was the drivers side rear door. We informed him that the damage might not be reparable due to the location of the dent.

If a car door is dented at the very top, damaging the body line, it can be challenging just to get our tools up there. You see there is an upper brace inside the door. This gives the door rigidity so that it wont flex and bend. This brace sits really close to the outer door skin 1/8th of an inch or less and usually has some type of glue or sealant bonding it to the panel.

Below is one of the pictures the customer supplied us through Facebook.

San Antonio Paintless Dent Removal

Customer Supplied Photo

Looking at the above photo you can see the dent. What you don’t see is the attempt another PDR (paintless dent repair) company made to try and repair the dent. Below the dent the metal is pushed out and there were small bumps poking out. This was going to make the repair even more challenging.

advanced PDR for San Antonio

This is what we were looking at

The picture above shows the body line pushed in and a crown on the top of the door.

dent repair san antonio

You can now see some of the outward dent left behind from another PDR companies attempt to repair the dent.

We used special thin tools. Or as we call them shaved tools, to go between the brace and the outer skin of the door. The tools were inserted through an electrical boot on at the front of the inside of the door. To remove the high spots  we used a special blending hammer and plastic knockdowns  Special care is given to not damage the paint.

The finished repair. No Dent!

The repair time for this dent was close to two hours. The body shop would have taken 3 days or longer. We saved the customer time and a lot of money.

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Concours Auto Salon Certified Paintless Dent Repair

All dent repair are polished when finished leaving behind no signs of the repair even being done.

If you or a friend needs paintless dent repair give a call. It doesn’t cost a thing for the estimate. Let us see if we can save you time and money.

 

Restore Your Car’s Finish With Opti-Coat

The environment can be very damaging to your car’s painted surfaces. Bugs, Birds, tree sap and pollution can age you vehicles finish faster then you would like. Lets face it new Car’s are not coming down in prices. Drivers are keeping their cars for longer periods of time. Proper washing and a good coating of protective sealant are key to a newer looking with a shine that will last for years.

Concours Auto Salon’s premium paint correction and restoration process can bring back that new car shine. It’s not a simple process and takes hours if not days depending on the amount of imperfections to be corrected.

It starts with a thorough hand wash with a decontamination process. The technician will then evaluate the cars finish. Test spots are polished to determine the best machines, pads and products to use for the restoration.

San Antonio Opti-Cost

The polishing/correction process is removing the scratched  dead layer of clear coat.

A key step in the correction process is to have Optimum Opti-Coat applied to the paints finish. Opti-Coat permanently bonds with your painted surfaces. It has the same UV protection properties as your factory clear coat. Within 12 hours it is resistant to liquids such as water and can be driven as normal by the client. Opti-Coat will then continue to harden over the next 30 days as it is exposed to heat. It’s hard wearing and resists scratching better then your factory clear coat.

Stunning Results With Paint Correction

The results from this combination are outstanding. Every customer is completely blown away with the results.

If you would like a free consultation stop by the shop and let us show you what we can do .

Paintless Dent Repair For Classic Cars

If you own a classic car chances are your not going to get a parking lot ding any time soon. However tools falling on fenders bikes bumping into it while its in the garage or thing falling off shelfs are common stories we’ve been told.  When I first learned PDR (Paintless Dent Repair) I was told that metal on cars from 1980 and older was to thick and strong to be effectively repaired with this process. This statement might hold true for large, complex and deep dents but for your average door ding they couldn’t be more wrong.

Things That Make A Dent Unrepairable With PDR

When it comes to Classic Cars, restored Classics and Hot Rods there are a few things that can make a ding or small dent Unrepairable with PDR.

  • Paint Condition   Old and custom color paints tend to be softer then more modern two component paints. Often times paint is single stage and can easily get divots when knocking down a crown or a high spot from the panel. Great care is taken ti ensure that this doesn’t happen  These paints are susceptible to cracking as well. We will use heat to warm the paint, making it more flexible if the paint is old or it’s age is unknown.
  • Previous Body Work   Almost all restored classics and hot rods have had body filler used on them. Most car owners have no idea where the filler is. When we start a repair we don’t start pushing hard right away. We test the panel with light pushes. Testing it to see how the metal is reacting and if out tool tip is easily detected from the outside. If there is body filler where the dent is we probably cant repair it with PDR.

 

1965 Mustang

1965 Mustang

Recently we had the opportunity  to work on this 1965 Mustang GT350H.  The owner drives it daily and had aquired a few dings in the side panels.

Dent Repair Mustang

As you can see there is a ding visible in the white light and an outward dent (probably caused by something in the trunk sliding around) in the yellow light. The ding was massaged with special tools for PDR from the back side of the panel. The outward dent was knocked down using a plastic tapper and light weight hammer.

dent repair san antonio

This is the panel with the repair completed.

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This is the front fender with a nice size ding.

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 This is the finished repair. No dent visible at all. The paint was not damaged and received a light polish after the repair was finished.

 

At Concours Auto Salon we take great pride in our work. Extra special care is given when we have the opportunity to work on American Classic Cars like this one. Old car or new on we would love to repair dents for you.