Former WMABA Leaders Partner as Collision Safety Consultants

by Alana Quartuccio

Three longtime collision repair professionals have partnered in a new business venture centered on doing the right thing by way of the consumer.

Former shop owners and past WMABA Board members Mark Boudreau, Pete Petursson and Timothy Pfeifle have combined their decades of experience into the launch of Collision Safety Consultants of MD, VA and DC – a vehicle to assist consumers, shops and insurance companies find common ground on Diminished Value and Appraisal Clause claims. 

“As fellow shop owners, we’ve each had a lot of experience over the years, dealing with the frustrations of making sure that we were able to help get consumers what they deserved,” Boudreau explains. Each dealt with their share of under-indemnified consumers time and time again when they ran their shops. 

“What we discovered, and what made this venture possible, is that it really just boiled down to doing the right thing. From the shop owners’ perspective, that meant fixing the car the way it needs to be fixed with the best methodologies that we have, which nowadays has become OEM procedures, and that requires tremendous training and the appropriate and proper equipment.”

From the vehicle owner’s perspective, most of them likely don’t realize that they are being under-indemnified, and that is where Collision Safety Consultants come in. They are there to help them figure out what they’re entitled to. Boudreau says the three of them recognized this need that is basically “outside the usual day to day purview of a collision repair facility and below the expertise of attorneys to make sure that consumers are made whole. And that’s where we fit in. We saw the opportunity. We’ve got tremendous expertise, so we decided to see what we can build.”

Only a few months into their new venture, the three have a 100-percent success rate in making their clients whole.

Whereas their primary client is the consumer, they set out to help all the parties involved, including the insurer, to “find common ground and a low-friction, common sense result to make sure everyone is made whole and that these claims can be closed,” according to the team. 

Being former shop owners is really key in doing what they do to assist their clients. “I certainly enjoy this,” Pfeifle says of their partnership. “I’ve been a consumer advocate since I ran my shops. Trying to get them the correct settlement for their losses was always my ultimate goal. This venture gives us an opportunity to really shine with that, and we help shops as well, which is huge for us. It makes this job so much more enjoyable because we know we really are helping people.” 

“When vehicles get damaged, there is a potential for significant diminished value, or accelerated depreciation as we call it,” observes Petursson. “Thanks to CARFAX and other tools, it is easy to determine if a vehicle has a prior wreck history. Given the culture of damaged goods, these repaired vehicles carry a stigma that a discounted price can help equalize. That newly discounted price is the ‘diminished value’ (DV) of that vehicle. It’s our job to quantify that and to settle that for the consumer.

“Appraisal Clause claims are the result of the policyholder disagreeing with the amount of the loss with their own insurance company,” he continues, clarifying the distinction between Appraisal Clause and DV. “While claimants may disagree with the carrier’s offer on a repair cost or total loss, they do not have a contract with that company (the policy), so therefore have no standing, short of hiring a lawyer. When claimants disagree with an insurance company, they would have to switch to their own carrier, make a claim and then invoke the Appraisal Clause if there was still disagreement.”

Vehicle owners being short-changed is surely not a new occurrence; however, in the 1990s and early 2000s, those amounts were in the few hundred dollar range. Nowadays, these shortages amount to thousands of dollars. “The delta has just grown exponentially,” shares Petursson. “In the past, consumers would shrug it off and pay the balance and grumble out the door. Now, they’re sticking the fork in the ground and saying no, they won’t pay $3,000 to $5,000 for something their insurer should cover.”  

“Insurance companies will dissect the claim and fight the shop on every single item, but once the Appraisal Clause is invoked, the insurance company has to hire their third-party person to come in while the consumer hires us,” adds Pfeifle. “So the insurance company is pretty much out of it at that point, which helps us settle the claim with reasonable parties.” 

“We’re not here to argue, and we’re not here to just beat each other into the ground, which so many times happens in the shop environment where it’s shop versus insurance, insurance versus shop, and it just turns into this personal vendetta. That’s not our role here,” Petursson sums up. “We get paid a flat fee to resolve this claim. The majority of appraisers that we have come across tend to be more fair and reasonable and understand we’re here to resolve this. The faster that we can get through this, the faster the consumer can get back on track and the car can get back on track, if it’s a repairable situation, so the customer can get back to his life.” 

Want more? Check out the March 2024 issue of Hammer & Dolly!