Base Coat Reduction: -.5 (Partial Base, w/ Full Clear)
Have you seen it?
That ugly little line, not always .5, sometimes .2, but 90% of the time its one or the other. If your like me, the first time you ran into this your like WTF? (What the Fudge) What is this, look a little closer and notice that not only is it taking labor AND materials away from the shop (and the painter if you are flat rate), but on top of all of that its a manually written line.
If you are bored and looking for a little amusement and a story to go along with it, confront the appraiser who wrote the estimate. Ask them why its there and chances are they will say, "The refinish time is to paint an entire panel, you will just have a small repair and will not be fully base coating the entire panel so you are not entitled to full refinish time." Wow, crazy huh? Especially when you take in to consideration that better than half of the appraisers out there have never picked up a paint gun, have never masked a car and have never even touched a piece of sandpaper. I have even had an appraiser tell me that if they reinspect a car, and you haven't panel painted (edge to edge) the base coat, that you are on the hook for insurance fraud.
Frustration has now fully set in on my behalf, I have book smart insurance stooges on one side telling me "how it is" and on the other side have a flat rate painter saying: "Wheres my money?"
After finally having some time in the office free I start to do a little research. Now keep in mind that we, meaning shops, are not the biggest purchasers of user agreements for estimating software, its usually the insurance companies that are the best customers, so they do not wish to alienate them, they try to play the roll of Switzerland when it comes to the never ending fighting between "Us and Them".
I began my research by calling up the CCC Pathways technical support line, I asked the gentleman who I spoke with how refinish times are calculated on a repair panel. I asked him if I did a 1 hour repair on a fender and a 1 hour repair on a door, if the lines that CCC generate for refinish are the official times. He said yes, and I asked him if the computer automatically deducts all overlaps and chooses all refinish times, he stated yes again. I asked him about a -.4 overlap between the panels and he stated that it was because they were adjacent and that time was saved due to their proximity, which all mad sense.
Then I asked him if there is a 1 hour repair to a panel, whatever time is generated for the refinish time is what CCC intends is needed to refinish that REPAIRED panel. He stated yes, all deductions are automatic and if none pop up, none are intended, be it base coat or overlap.
Then I called up Mitchell, ran the same scenarios by them and they agreed, as did the gentleman in the above paragraph. Last but not least, I called up the California Department of Insurance and ran the scenarios by them, they agreed*** with both CCC and Mitchell that there is no justification for a base coat reduction, and that if anything, it actually takes longer to blend within a panel than just panel paint it.
***The C-DOI did state that it could be considered lawful, but only if backed up with a legal precedent (i.e. State Farm vs. Joe's Body Shop (a legal finding)) or if there was a public statement issued by either one of the estimating software companies.
Since the confirmations of both CCC & Mitchell as well as the California Department of Insurance have occurred I no longer tolerate any sort of base coat reduction, if the insurance company gives me any flack I tell them my story, if they don't like that I tell them I will not release the car until they are paid for, and if they can furnish any sort of legal precedent or literature from the software makers I will create a negative supplement and refund their money, haven't had any insurance company big or small be able to produce such a document.
So there you have it, my heavily opinionated piece about Base Coat Reduction. Keep in mind, I'm not a lawyer, or a limo driver, so use the information for what you can!
Alex Hahn (AlexHahn82@Yahoo.com)
This is an old problem with a new name. This time last year I wrote an article for ABRN http://abrn.search-autoparts.com/abrn/Training/Blend-with-panel-pro...
that cited the same issues you mentioned in your post. The trick is to itemized the tasks you have to perform to complete the repair and make your own manual entries. The sample given in this article will work in most cases.
Using a formula to calculate the actual tasks it was needs to be done. Simply cutting the time in half is neither accurate or fair. Infact, it could be considered fraudulent.
The fraud and bully tactics will never stop so long as insurance companies can get away with it. It is profitable for them. I have banged heads with a claims supervisor over panel blending and color tinting for several years now. At first, I operated under the assumption that he was simply ignorant and set out to provide him factual evidence that they are not, in fact, the same.
I began with a statement from their preferred data provider, specifically stating that they are separate operations. I then provided a very detailed explanation of how both operations are frequently needed as many colors have to be manually tinted to achieve a color match that is close enough to blend. Every major paint manufacturer confirmed this.
Do you think any of this made any difference? No. The reaction I have gotten is for this company to steer business away from me, telling customers that I will not co-operate with them and work from their estimates. They ignore the "P" pages regularly and will not budge from this position, despite any proof contrary to their opinion of how a repair should be performed and what is and is not necessary to establish appropriate payment.
Feigned ignorance is profitable and in the face of overwhelming evidence that a certain position is wrong, instead of admitting the mistake and correcting it, retaliation and smear tactics are the preferred solution.
At the time I am speaking of, the adjuster was so green that she would not make a move without the manager telling her to make a move. I felt sorry for her, as she was caught in the middle! I tried to explain what was happening to her in this situation, my having been one of the first women estimating in the early 90's, but she still would not take a stand fearing for her job. Talk about against the law!! I hope she left that company to go to a more reliable manager that would not only look out for the company, but look out for her as well, and someone with more knowledge than this guy she called manager!
It amazes me how nameless, faceless people sit in the comfort of their offices protected from the fallout for the decisions they make, and come up with clever and devious ways to cheat shops out of their money. There is no logic or justification for reducing basecoat refinish times, particularly on a damaged panel. No software data base advocates basecoat reduction, no paint manufacturer advocates basecoat reduction and, in fact, all the technical information published supports the idea that it takes MORE time and skill, not less, to blend color into a panel than it does to paint it completely.
Insurance companies have a way of ignoring any evidence that is contrary to many of the ridiculous and indefensible practices they come up with and are confident in the knowledge that many of the shops they have intimidated into accepting being shortchanged don't have the courage to do anything to stop it. I live for the day I can get my hands on a vehicle that belongs to an insurance collision repair "expert" and repair their car EXACTLY they way they demand that we repair everybody else's, no supplements and no "something for nothing". It will give a whole new meaning to "usual and customary in this market area."
What is missing from all of this is the application of a wet bed. Most paint manufactures ask for a wet bed for the metalic and pearls to orient themselves. So the reality is that we are putting base coat over the whole panel. Not only that, but it is clear base coat so that is another color or step from the color coat. I have heard of insurance companys also taking the clear coat off and just leaving the .5 for the whole blend procedure. One or two shops fighting this is not going to cure the problem, we as an industry have to band togeather and fight as one. Use the information from the estimating software as a base for our arguments and try to get it done on a national level. Maybe it is time that there is a legal battle so that there is precedent
I used your logic with great success earlier this week and would like to share the moment as I think the strategy I used will work with anyone as long as they use a similar approach:
It started with an estimate from an insurance company that shamelessly insists on applying an overlap deduction for bumper covers and does the typical slash and burn on paint times, using the "blend within the panel" magic. I called a supervisor, since they are the ones who really have the authority to change field policy and politely challenged him to defend the reductions in paint time. Of course, he started citing the "studies" they conducted that legitimized these reductions, but I let that go for the time being.
I asked him if he ever saw a bumper's edges when it had been removed from a car and he affirmed that he had. I then asked him if he happened to notice that all the edges had color and clear on them and asked him how he thought that paint got there if the cover was painted on the car. He gave me more "study" information and dodged answering the question.
Then we moved on to the blend within the panel magic. I asked him what percentage of the basecoat refinish time he thought was dedicated to the actual application of color. He acted like I had shifted to speaking Chinese and didn't get my point, so I elaborated for him. I asked him if the basecoat time included masking the entire panel, sanding the entire panel, cleaning the entire panel, and the actual application of color. He's back with me now and quickly points out that I will not be applying color to the entire panel so that's why they reduce it. That's when I moved in for the kill.
I asked him if he knew what a wet bed is and of course, he did not (or at least said he didn't), so I told him. I explained that a wet bed is the application of a clear paint material that allows the color being applied to blend into the existing color in order to accomplish a smooth and undetectible transition. I said that it involves the painter putting this clear paint material into his spray gun, applying it to the ENTIRE panel, cleaning his gun, then applying the color. So, I reasoned, not only is a reduction in paint time not appropriate, the application of the wet bed to the entire panel is no different than the application of color to the entire panel, so it seems like a repaired panel or a panel being blended justifies more paint labor than less, since the basecoat is applied at a minimum of one and one half times, some of it just happens to be clear.
He asked me if I beat everyone up like this and I explained that I wasn't beating him up, I was advancing my point of view based on what I observe when seeing the work actually being performed. I said that I believed I had succesfully defended my position and all I asked was that he defend his. I asked if he would be so kind as to start by providing me with the studies he has referred to so I could have some grasp of his position, because, as I saw it, my position was logical and made sense while his did not. He asked me what it would take to make me happy and I said, " Honor my rates, take the overlap off the bumper cover, and pay full paint time for every panel. I got a check the next day for an additional $300. I never did get to see the "study".
This is what I have been trying to get other shop owners to understand. The insurance companys understand that they are doing. Just nobody is stoping them. They are the bully on the playground. I would also like to state that not all insurance companys are like this. There are several out there that are fair and open minded in dealings with body shops. I saw one shop put up a list of insurance companys in the office for everybody to see. They were rated in order of accuracy and ease of dealings. The shop owner would take the time to explain to any customer who asked about it why they were rated how they were. He would use specific points and estimates as examples to back up his point. Worked great when an adjuster walked in to talk to a customer and the customer asked about their ranking on the list.
And as always, United we stand. Divided we fall.
I have had just such a sign on my office wall for over 7 years, only my sign names the companies I refuse to negotiate with. Some of the companies I named thought it was funny and of little consequence and two threatened to sue me, but I never backed down. I waste very little time anymore arguing with companies I know to be on the low end of the profit spectrum.
The ones who found my sign amusing didn't find it so funny when local agents for those companies started getting phone calls from their customers when they changed to companies we recommended. You probably don't believe it, but many have changed their tune and have been much more agreeable to work with because they do not want their tactics to be revealed to their customers or their name on my sign.
Shops have much more power than they think, but it is up to each and every individual to determine how far they will be pushed backward before they decide enough is enough and refuse to be pushed anymore.
As far as being united, I gave up on that years ago and decided to run my business as I choose without relying on anyone else. Fear permeates this business and you can only count on yourself. The best we can hope for is to learn from each other and use the techniques we think will help us and disregard the rest. Thank you for your suggestion Sean, it has proven to be a valuable one to me.