by Chasidy Rae Sisk
During the October meeting of the Auto Damage Appraiser Licensing Board (ADALB), two new members sat at the table: Carl Garcia (Carl’s Collision Center; Fall River) and Vicky Wei Ye (Bos Insurance Agency). The meeting ran without interruption, and the recent additions briefly introduced themselves at the end of the meeting after weighing in on Board business – and even voting on the revocation of an appraiser’s license!
But who are these new Board members, and what are their qualifications? New England Automotive Report reached out to Garcia and Ye to request an interview. Although Ye did not respond to our request, Garcia graciously scheduled a call to assure readers of his automotive and appraisal experience as well as to share his goals as he joins the ADALB for the second time.
New England Automotive Report: What are your goals going into your new role with the ADALB?
Carl Garcia: Owning multiple repair shops in Massachusetts is a blessing, but it can also drive you a bit crazy, especially because we have a lot of regulations in place that insurance companies simply are not following. These abuses have become my biggest frustration over the last few years. My biggest pet peeve is when insurers write for used suspension parts, so I’m hoping we can get some clarity around this mispractice. Also, I hope to address the failure of certain insurers to inspect vehicles and write estimates within mandated timelines. I understand that COVID-19 created some challenges, but the abuse of the system has been incredibly blatant over the past few years…how long is it going to take for us to get back to enforcing the regulations we have in place? I believe the Commonwealth has some of the best and most effective regulations in place, so now it’s time to make sure everyone understands what they say and start enforcing them.
NEAR: You were a member of the Board several years ago, and now you’re back. How did you find yourself back on the ADALB in 2023? Was there an application process, or were you invited to return?
CG: Basically, the same process that happened to me seven or eight years ago happened in reverse. Then, I was on the Board, but when a new administration was elected, I got replaced as part of the process of governmental change. Since those days, I’ve remained very active in local politics, serving as chairman of my local credit union and staying involved with various organizations and entities across the state. Since my removal from the Board, I have spoken to Governor Healey (who was attorney general at the time) to express my frustration about insurance companies abusing the system. I have had a couple conversations about the possibility of me rejoining the Board, and several other people also reached out to see if I’d be interested. Entering into my second run on the ADALB, I plan to combat these systemic abuses by insurance carriers. And now I know that I need to focus on getting it down as quickly as possible because I don’t doubt that the Board will shift again the next time we have a new administration.
NEAR: How will your background/industry experience allow you to best serve the interests of consumers across the Commonwealth? For your own industry?
CG: Carl’s Collision Center is a leader in electric vehicles, OEM procedures and so much more. The training we’ve been through to get there gives me a great understanding of what consumers need and deserve when their vehicle is being repaired, and it has helped me understand how important it is to get the industry educated about the repair process. Meanwhile, the insurance appraisers constantly tell us that no one else is asking for certain required processes and procedures, and if that’s true, it’s a huge problem that we need to fix. We need to make sure shops are educated about what OEMs require and help get their employees up to speed on the right way to perform in today’s industry. And then we need to make sure insurers are paying shops to meet these requirements that help protect consumers’ safety.
NEAR: How familiar are you with the laws governing appraisers’ licenses in Massachusetts?
CG: I’d like to say I’m extremely knowledgeable about those laws. This is my second stint on the Board, and I’m a firm believer in our regulations. I think this is a great state to do business in if we all play by the rules. I’m also very knowledgeable about the expedited supplement process, and the way it is abused these days completely blows my mind.
NEAR: How familiar are you with the appraisal process itself?
CG: Between all three of our shops, we repair 120-125 cars every week, so I’m extremely knowledgeable about the appraisal process.
NEAR: Do you feel that the ADALB is as effective as it could and should be? If not, what actions could be taken to make it more effective?
CG: No, it is not, but I want to preface those thoughts by explaining that a lot of people don’t understand the ADALB and what it’s supposed to do. I want to see complaints filed as often as necessary, but shops need to realize that a complaint is not a fight between their facility and the insurance company; once the Board decides to move forward, it’s the ADALB moving forward against the appraiser. The shop alerts us to the issue, but that’s typically the only role they play. It is important for the shop owner to understand that they are responsible for providing all relevant and necessary information to present to the Board at the time of the complaint being filed. One of the biggest inefficiencies is improperly filed complaints, so I’m hoping that – through this magazine and other industry sources – we can spread information to help shops better understand what it takes to file a proper complaint that the Board will move forward on. It’s really about educating people, and that takes a team effort. When insurance companies file complaints against shop appraisers, they do a much better job than the shops do. The first time I was on the Board, I spoke about the process and the details that need to be included at regional meetings around the state, so perhaps I can do something like that again to help shops learn to write more effective complaints.
We also need to educate consumers. When they first encounter a problem, it’s the end of the world, so they’re passionate about it. But once it is solved, they don’t want to continue the fight. We need to educate them about why it’s so important to keep fighting and make certain regulatory changes.
NEAR: Are you still involved with any insurers as a referral or program shop?
CG: My father started our first shop in 1961, and referrals started as a much different relationship. As a second generation shop owner, I used to believe strongly in the benefits of referral programs because they were very helpful to my father at one point. But since I took the shop over, it became very clear that we were being taken advantage of in those relationships…so much so that my wife has compared one particular relationship to domestic abuse! And the abuses over the past few years have run rampant, so as we move into our third generation of ownership and I start stepping away from the shop more often, we’ve decided to disengage from those relationships with insurers, which is probably the smartest thing we’ve done for the business. But when shops sign up for them, we don’t always thoroughly read the contracts, and we’ve found it’s not always easy to extricate yourself because those contracts are designed to keep you in them.
To any shop owner reading this who might be considering signing up for one of those programs, make sure to read the contract thoroughly and understand the ramifications of breaking the contract!
I recently learned that I’m still a referral shop for an insurer after I withdrew from their program. I didn’t realize the same company could run a referral and an accelerated program, and I don’t think they should be able to run dual programs.
I’m really looking forward to the Board cleaning up some of the low-hanging fruit and hopefully updating some of our regulations to make them more effective and easier to enforce.
Want more? Check out the January 2024 issue of New England Automotive Report!