Massachusetts board split over complaints against appraiser who ‘ignored’ OEM repair procedures

The Massachusetts Automobile Damage Appraiser Licensing Board (ADALB) is apparently split when it comes to collision repairers following safe and proper OEM repair procedures.

The last two council meetings, held on July 19 and September 13, included the review of dozens of complaints – the majority of which were filed by a licensed appraiser who also owns a body shop – against two insurance companies and their accredited appraisers. ADALB does not disclose any names given on complaints. The board includes two insurance industry representatives and two collision shop representatives who are appointed by the governor and a fifth who is appointed by the insurance commissioner and acts as chair.

Most of the complaints, according to board members, centered on the evaluator’s refusal to cover OEM-recommended pre- and post-evaluation seat belt scans, calibrations and safety checks. and offered coverage amounts for procedures without supporting documents and without recommendations of shops that would complete the work for that amount. Insurance representatives voted against the transfer of almost all complaints while collision representatives voted against. When there was an abstention, Chairman Michael Donovan voted with insurance representatives against advancing the complaints.

According to the July meeting minutes, board member Peter Smith of MAPFRE Insurance Co. moved a motion to dismiss all complaints because they “involved monetary disputes and the board is not responsible for adjudicating monetary disputes between the body shop and the insurance company’s appraisers.Smith also said the complaints were “harassment” of insurers and appraisers.His motion failed for lack of for a second and member Rick Starbard, president of Rick’s Auto Collision, said he wanted to review and vote on every complaint (there were 100 but according to Repairer Driven News’ count, only 64 were reviewed at the end of the September meeting.) Of these complaints, only 12 were approved by the Board to proceed to a hearing or mediation.

The board “establishes and maintains standards of conduct for motor vehicle damage assessors” and “may suspend, cancel and revoke licenses following a hearing process that may result from complaints filed with 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. security and said they were failing that with these complaints. Starbard also said the evaluator against whom the complaints are filed “ignored” the OEM safety recommendations.

“We are putting a lot of people’s lives at risk by passing these things on like we are,” Starbard said. “I hope to God that there is a class action attorney who is going to look at these vehicles because there is a lawsuit that needs to be filed here.”

Later in the meeting, Starbard noted, “Every vehicle is different and this shop, time and time again, keeps coming back with this vehicle manufacturer’s specific requirements after the collision and for some reason this evaluator believes that none of them are justified, which I’ve seen. In some cases they say they don’t pay it because it’s the only shop that repairs cars to OE requirements, which is about as crazy as when we had a complaint that “should have been dismissed because ADAS is a relatively new technology. This is completely crazy.

“For cars to come out without these manufacturer-mandated procedures being followed and when presented to an appraiser, for an appraiser to arbitrarily deny it or come up with an unrealistic cost to achieve it, that appraiser is a danger. on the road. They should be unlicensed as quickly as humanly possible, but we give them (sic) to do whatever they want.

In response, Samantha Tracy of Arbella Insurance Group justified her reasoning for voting against many complaints in the future. “One of the concerns I have with this series of complaints is that some of them appear, to some extent, to be the breakdown or deterioration of a professional relationship between a particular appraiser and a particular store because … [of] the frequency and the language it contains. I’m afraid the board is placed between what is essentially the breakdown of a professional relationship.

Johnson said he believes the issue is “the collapse of a profession” when it comes to complaints because what the store is dealing with from the insurer is not fair. “[I]If a reviewer says, ‘Buy this wing for $100’ and it’s not available, I’ll give extra,” he said. “If I do a pre- and post-scan and I say it’s X and the appraiser says, ‘No, I’ll only pay Y’ and I say, ‘Where can I do it?’ [The response is] “I don’t know”, how fair in any world? I just don’t understand.

Tracy also argued that some of the complaints are against a supervisor who did not write the review as well as the reviewer and should be dismissed because of this. In one instance, Starbard brought a motion to advance a complaint against only the original assessor, which led to Tracy’s approval to advance it.

The executive director of the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of Massachusetts (AASP-MA), Evangelos “Lucky” Papageorg, noted to RDN that since the board follows Robert’s rules of procedure, tie votes on motions for advancing the complaints mean they are essentially in limbo having not been fired or advanced. ADALB’s complaint procedure guidelines do not indicate what happens to complaints that end in a tie vote. However, it does state that the council may dismiss complaints at any time “with or without prejudice for lack of jurisdiction, based on frivolous allegations, lack of sufficient evidence, lack of substantiation legal or factual, a finding of non-infringement, the withdrawal of a Complaint, subsequent compliance with laws and/or regulations, or any other reason.

To address the split vote of insurance reps versus body shop reps, Papageorg said the AASP-MA is working to pass legislation that would add two consumer members to the board — one from the Division consumer protection from the attorney general’s office and one from a consumer protection agency.

“The advice was developed to protect the consumer, but they have no say,” Papageorg said. “As you can see from the votes, this is going strictly along party lines, for lack of a better way to put it; two votes on the insurance side and two votes on the bodywork side. And because they are made by the collision side, fail to move to the informal complaint stage in the process due to Robert’s rules. So our feeling is that by adding two consumers to the board, consumers get one vote and that would pretty much eliminate the possibility of a tie vote.

The bill, which died at the end of the 2021-22 legislative session, also seeks to move ADALB from the Insurance Division to the Professional Licensing Division. The bill will have to be reintroduced for the next session.

The next board meeting is scheduled for October 26.

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Featured Image Credit: Chalirmpoj Pimpisarn/iStock

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Alejandro L. Myatt