Local Auto Body Shops Protest Lowest in the Nation Insurance Reimbursements

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Several local auto body shops are among more dozens statewide to protest, what they call, “unsustainably low reimbursement rates that were artificially set by insurance companies.”

The shops say the $40-per-hour reimbursement rate is the lowest in the nation and force many consumers to pay the difference out of pocket.

David Brown, DeLuca Auto Group, Haverhill; Jeff White, North Andover Auto Body, North Andover; JR Force, Repairs Unlimited, Georgetown; and David Shepard, Shepard’s Automotive Center, Newburyport, noted concerns during a more than four-hour hearing by the Special Commission on Auto Body Labor Rates during late January. Some say they may remove their shops from a referral list system maintained by insurance companies.

Brian Bernard, owner of Total Care Accident Repair in Raynham, said the rate falls far short of covering the body shop owners’ labor, equipment, training and repair costs. He added the labor reimbursement rates have stayed the same for 11 years and only moved $10 in nearly 34 years.

“It’s tremendously unfair to consumers who pay thousands of dollars in premiums to have their insurance companies tell them they’re not going to cover the cost of their repairs. We’ve done our best to bring attention to this issue, but at this point we need to make it clear to insurers and consumers that we cannot do this work at the current reimbursement rates,” Bernard said.

Collision shop owners support legislation introduced in the House that would increase the hourly rate over a two-year period and then tie it to regional price indexes moving forward.

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