“No” IS a Two Way Street 

by Evangelos “Lucky” Papageorg, AASP/MA Executive Director

In the collision repair industry, the word “NO” is often used by insurance companies, their staff, independent appraisers and internal adjusters to abruptly end discussions. However, this shouldn’t be the case. “NO” should instead initiate a two-way conversation. It’s crucial for vehicle owners and shop owners to understand that they too can say “NO” to an insurer.

As an industry, we should view an insurer’s “NO” as a request for additional information, specifically documentation. Proper documentation has repeatedly been proven as an effective way to change a “NO” to a “YES.” For instance, a shop owner in the Worcester area has adopted the practice of creating a file for every disagreement, a method utilized by many successful shops. Today, many vehicle owners and shops recognize the power of the word “NO.” 

When insurers attempt to underpay claims or declare a vehicle a total loss, asserting “NO, that is unacceptable” during the settlement process is highly effective. It’s imperative for more vehicle owners to advocate for themselves using this approach. While you, as a collision repair expert, can provide documentation, it’s ultimately the vehicle owner’s decision whether to pursue their insurer for full reimbursement. Pairing “NO” with “WHY” is a potent strategy for holding insurers accountable for their actions in the claims process. Demanding justification for denial forces insurers to provide valid reasons. Insisting on seeing where in the insurance policy it states the denial is a reasonable request. This persistence, akin to a child asking “WHY?” until satisfied, has led to more fair reimbursements for procedures and labor rates.

Repair shops adopting this approach understand that the issue lies between the vehicle owner and their insurance company. They grasp their role, responsibilities and liability. They realize that a properly prepared and documented “blueprint” and “repair plan” form the basis for fair compensation. The days of vague estimates are over; today, professional repairers must defend their detailed plans.

If you’ve meticulously prepared a “blueprint” and “repair plan,” deviating from it makes little sense. Allowing an appraiser to undercut your figure without justification suggests inadequacies in your planning. When a “NO” cannot be turned to a “YES,” the vehicle owner assumes responsibility and must pursue their insurer using the provided documentation.

Ultimately, if the vehicle owner chooses to accept “NO,” they’re subsidizing their insurer’s negligence, instead of the shop owner doing it. Repair shops are akin to doctors, specialists in restoring vehicles to health. Just as patients are responsible for costs beyond insurance coverage in healthcare, vehicle owners bear responsibility in the repair process. There are noticeable shifts, especially when vehicle owners and shops challenge denials. Insurers often relent when they realize a problem won’t disappear with a single word. Arguments like “We don’t pay for that” or “If you had gone to one of our shops” no longer hold weight. Well-educated vehicle owners, armed with documentation, are seeing fair reimbursements from their insurers.

For more success stories, read the June/July Damage Report newsletter (available only to AASP/MA members. See below on how to join). These include fair labor rate reimbursements and proper reimbursements for repair procedures, all achieved by asserting “NO.”

“NO” truly operates as a two-way street. If you need further proof, consider joining AASP/MA. You can find an application on page 7 or visit the aaspma.org website and click the JOIN NOW button on the home page for more information.

Want more? Check out the July 2024 issue of New England Automotive Report!