Massachusetts board of directors split over complaints against appraiser who "ignored" OEM repair procedures

Massachusetts board of directors split over complaints against appraiser who “ignored” OEM repair procedures

The Massachusetts Automobile Damage Assessor Licensing Board (ADALB) is apparently divided when it comes to crash repairers following safe and appropriate OEM repair procedures.

The two previous board meetings, on July 19 and September 13, included a review of dozens of complaints — most of which were filed by a licensed appraiser who also owns an auto body shop — against two insurance companies and accredited appraisers. ADALB does not disclose any names mentioned in the complaints. The board includes representatives from the insurance industry, two collision store representatives who are appointed by the governor and a fifth who is appointed by the insurance commissioner and serves as chairperson.

Most complaints, according to board members, centered on the appraiser refusing to cover for what the manufacturer recommended for pre- and post-screen wipes, calibrations, seat belt integrity checks, and offering coverage amounts for procedures without supporting documentation and no recommendations from stores that would complement the job for that amount. . Insurance representatives voted against pushing nearly every complaint forward while crash representatives voted against it. When there was an abstention, Chairman Michael Donovan voted with insurance representatives against pushing the complaints forward.

According to minutes of the July meeting, board member Peter Smith, with insurance company MAPFRE, filed a motion to dismiss all complaints because they “involve financial disputes and the board is not competent to adjudicate monetary disputes between the auto body shop and the insurance company’s appraisers.” Smith also said the complaints are “harassment” to insurance companies and appraisers. His proposal failed for lack of a second, and member Rick Starbard, president of Rick’s Auto Collision, said he wanted every complaint to be reviewed and voted on (there were 100 complaints but by Repairer Driven News’ tally, only 64 had been reviewed by the end of the September meeting). Of these complaints, only 12 were approved by the board to move forward toward a hearing or mediation.

The board “sets and maintains standards of conduct for vehicle damage assessment experts” and “can suspend, revoke and revoke licenses after a hearing that may result from complaints brought to the board,” according to the ADALB website.

Starbard and member Bill Johnson, president and CEO of Pleasant Street Auto, argued that part of the board’s responsibility under state law is to ensure vehicles are repaired safely and said they failed to do so with these complaints. Starbard also said that the appraiser against whom the complaints were filed had “ignored” OEM safety recommendations.

“We’re putting a lot of people’s lives at risk by moving these things the way we are,” Starbard said. “I hope to God there will be a class action attorney who will look at these vehicles because there are some legal actions to be taken here.”

Later in the meeting, Starbard noted that: “Every vehicle is different and this shop, over and over again, continues to meet the specific car maker’s requirements after the collision and for some reason, this appraiser feels there is no justification for any of them, and that’s what I’ve seen. In some cases. , they say they don’t charge because this is the only shop that repairs cars to OEM requirements, which this guy thinks is crazy as if we had a complaint that “should have been dismissed because ADAS” is a relatively new technology. That’s totally insane.

“For cars that come out without these manufacturers-imposed procedures that must be followed and when they are presented to an appraiser, the appraiser arbitrarily rejects them or comes up with some unrealistic cost to implement, the appraiser is a road hazard. They should be unlicensed as quickly as reasonably possible. Humanity but we give them (sic) to do whatever they want.”

In response, Samantha Tracy, of Arbella Insurance Group, justified her reasoning to vote against many of the complaints going forward. “One of the concerns I have with this series of complaints is that some of this appears to be, to some extent, a breakdown or deterioration in the professional relationship between a particular appraiser and a particular store due to… [of] Frequency and the language it contains. I’m concerned that the board of directors is being positioned between what is essentially a breakdown of the professional relationship.”

Johnson said he believes the case is a “career breakdown” in terms of complaints because what the store is dealing with from the insurance company is not fair. “[I]The appraiser said, “Buy this barrier for $100” and it’s not available, I’ll give a supplement,” he said. “If I do a pre- and post-scan scan and I say it’s X and the appraiser says, ‘No, I’ll just pay Y’ and I said, ‘Where can I do that? ?” [The response is] ‘I don’t know’ How is this fair in what world? I just don’t get it.”

Tracy also made the argument that some of the complaints against a supervisor did not write the appraisal as well as the appraiser and should be dismissed because of it. In one case, Starbard made a motion to move a complaint forward only against the original appraiser, which resulted in Tracy agreeing to move forward.

Executive Director of the Alliance of Massachusetts Automobile Service Providers (AASP-MA), Evangelos “Lucky” Papagorge to RDN noted that because the board follows Robert’s rules of order, tying votes on motions to push complaints forward means they’re essentially in limbo because they They were neither expelled nor offered. The ADALB Complaint Procedure Guidelines Don’t mention what happens to complaints that end in a draw. However, it states that the Board can dismiss complaints at any time “with or without prejudice due to a lack of jurisdiction, based on frivolous allegations, lack of sufficient evidence, lack of legal or factual basis, or discovery that there is no violation withdrawal of a complaint, subsequent compliance with laws and/or regulations, or any other basis.”

To address the split between insurance representatives and body store representatives, Papageorg said the AASP-MA is working on legislation that would add two consumer members to the board — one from the Attorney General’s Office’s Consumer Protection Division and one from the Consumer Protection Agency.

“The board was developed to protect the consumer, but they don’t have a voice in it,” Papagorge said. “As you can see from the votes, it goes strictly down the party lines, for there is no better way to put it; two votes on the insurance side and two votes on the body shop side. And because it was made from the collision side, it failed to proceed to the informal complaint stage of the process because Robert rules. So we feel that by adding two consumers to the board, consumers get a vote and that will eliminate the chance of a tie vote.”

The bill, which died at the end of the 2021-22 legislative session, also looks to move ADALB from the insurance division to the professional licensing division. The bill must be returned to the next session.

The next meeting of the Board of Directors is scheduled for October 26.


Featured photo credit: Chalirmpoj Pimpisarn/iStock

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