'Who Pays?': 39% of body shops itemize diagnostic research separately than scans

Nearly 40 % of collision repairers itemize time spent researching diagnostic trouble codes rather than bundling this labor in their scanning time, based on the latest “Who Will pay for What?” survey.

The October 2021 poll saw 61 percent of auto body shops indicating their bills’ scanning line item might have included DTC research efforts. The other 39 percent from the unspecified number of respondents might have drawn a distinction between the job and itemized the 2 processes separately.

Collision Advice CEO Mike Anderson, whose company conducts laptop computer in conjunction with CRASH Network, on Monday designed a case for itemizing diagnostic research separately than scan labor.

“I know first-hand how much time it takes to analyze and troubleshoot DTCs,” Anderson said inside a statement. “Diagnostic labor time should really be separated in the scan labor time because there are way too many variables involved. Just like judgement times vary in line with the size and location from the damage and also the substrate involved, diagnostic time varies too. Isn't the time that it takes to research one diagnostic trouble code different from researching five? And it is not just looking up the code. You also have to navigate the OEM repair flowchart to determine what the most probable cause is. Should there be several possible causes, it may be the first you attempt, or the last one. All this takes time.”

A separate question on the October 2021 “Who Pays?” asked shops how frequently eight top insurers reimbursed electric power charge for researching DTCs, defined as “Time to research codes per OEM repair procedures, and navigate the flow-charts to trouble-shoot the automobile.”

Only 29 percent from the few hundred responding shops reported having their bill taught in carriers “always” or “most of the time.”

Around 50 % of the shops polled said they never asked, which Anderson suggested meant the job was being accomplished for free instead of engrossed in a scanning time which had been expanded accordingly.

“I'd expect the proportion of shops billing and being paid regularly for this would be to grow in 2021 because the industry gets to be more educated,” Anderson wrote within the “Who Pays?” report. “Note the number of shops indicated they've never sought to become paid for this process.”

Large percentages of the shops who did bill for researching DTCs reported insurers who “never” covered those charges, with State Farm, GEICO, Allstate and Farmers around a 50 percent “never” rate.

State Farm was interesting for the reason that it was overwhelmingly more prone to consistently cover diagnostic research when a DRP shop billed a customer for it than when a non-DRP shop did. The spread between its management of the 2 groups of repairers stood out compared to the other five carriers that were more likely to consistently reimburse network body shops.

All of the eight major insurers were extremely prone to cover pre- and post-repair scans, however. Collision Advice and CRASH Network defined these as connecting a scan tool to determine if fault codes existed. The researchers also defined a post-repair scan as encompassing “an output or functionality test to make sure that all comfort and security features are operating properly.”

85 percent of retailers reported the insurers covering pre-repair scans “always” or “the majority of the time” and 88 percent of shops encountered those responses on post-scans.

“It's encouraging to determine it has continued to go up,” Anderson wrote of post-scans within the report. “I think it's important to realize that there aren't dash lights for every function that won't work on the vehicle. Some vehicles have to be driven a certain distance or have a set quantity of key cycles before a dash light is triggered. Therefore the post-repair scan needs to be done to ensure all the comfort and security features of the automobile will work properly. There isn't any dash warning light, for example, that tells you the Bluetooth feature isn't working. There might be no dash light for blind-spot monitoring or adaptive cruise control. And so i look forward to your day when post-repair scans are being paid 100 %.

“Whether scanning is done in-house or via a sublet service, I encourage shops to capture the ‘freeze frame’ or ‘snapshot’ data as documentation to substantiate the line item on the estimate or invoice.”

“It is also interesting to note that there are very few shops NOT trying to get paid for post-repair scanning,” Anderson wrote. “This is different from some of the other procedures in which a significant percentage of shops aren't getting paid because they're not seeking to get paid. In this instance, when shops aren't being paid, it's generally due to friction from the insurance companies. But also remember that an insurer refusing to pay for a post-repair scan doesn't remove your shop's liability because of not conducting a scan.”

Help the collision industry if you take the present “Who Will pay for What?” survey after the month and answering questions about topics like refinishing. All answers are kept confidential; information is published only in the aggregate.