Are You a Standard or Non-Standard Repairer?

January 27, 2005 by
Filed under: Uncategorized 

Have you heard the term ?non-standard insurance? before? Most of you probably have. But do you understand what it means? Put simply, ?non-standard insurance? is an insurance policy for high risk drivers. These drivers are becoming your biggest problem. Some insurers are hedging their bets against the state risk pools and are actively seeking the worst drivers on the road. These drivers pose a high risk to these insurers and they charge accordingly. The problem is, not only do they have to charge high premiums, but they also have to try to screw you, the collision repairer, when you get stuck repairing one of these bonehead driver?s vehicles.

Non-standard insurance is relatively new in this wonderful world of insurance coverage we exist in. I?m not sure which company came up with the idea first, but it seems to be profitable. Many insurers are moving toward this market. Some are just jumping in headfirst, like Progressive, and others are buying up smaller companies and sticking the Grandma Andrettis and drunken dirtbags under these lesser known brand names. The Hartford has Omni. I never have trouble getting paid what I need from the Hartford, but when Omni is involved it?s a fight for every dime.

I looked up the list of non-standard insurers in Connecticut. It?s a who?s who of the companies we complain about the most. Allstate, Geico, Infinity, MetLife, Nationwide, Omni, Progressive, if an insurer is a pain in your ass, they are selling non-standard policies. They are also the companies doing the most advertising. Those endless annoying commercials that dominate radio and television are huge nets cast to catch the endless schools of those who can?t drive. You might wonder, what would drive a successful company to beg the worst drivers to buy their insurance?

Remember the ?risk pool?? You don?t hear too much about them any more. I don?t anyway. A risk pool was designed to allow even the worst drivers to be able to buy insurance. Any insurance company wanting to sell insurance in a certain state was required to accept a certain percentage of risk pool business. On top of that, they had to offer the initial policy at a reasonable rate, usually set by the state. Insurance companies had no control over who they insured in this group and for how much.

But somewhere, at some time, some very smart person in the insurance business thought, ?What if we target these people on our own and charge them what we want? Wouldn?t we be better off picking the best of the worst and charging them up the wazoo?? It must be working because more and more companies are following the trend.

A typical example of this type of consumer is Connecticut?s ?Indian? population. All you politically correct, bleeding heart liberals better go pop a valium before you read on. I put Indian in quotes because most of them are black. Most of them were penniless and lived that stereotypical lifestyle (I?m trying to be gentle here) that many inner city blacks do. As a middle class, white Republican, I accept full responsibility for their plight, if that makes you feel better.

Anyway, suddenly they get these casinos, and bazillions of dollars start rolling their way. Because many have never had to deal with money before, their weekly stipends go to expensive cars, gadgets, goodies, houses, and??Firewater! Well, I think you get the picture. They have lots and lots of insurance claims. According to a Progressive employee, many of these Indians happily pay thousands of dollars every month so they can continue to enjoy their lifestyle fully insured. Progressive feels, why not charge whatever these people are willing pay instead of letting the State of Connecticut decide what we have to charge.

If your body shop targets these people as customers, you deserve what you get. If you are a DRP shop for Progressive, Allstate, Nationwide or MetLife, not only do you need your head examined, but you deserve to be repairing ten year old Hyundais owned by belligerent alcoholics. You know what to expect. You may have to work for free. You may have to cut corners to make a profit. You may have to over-indulge in the firewater yourself to get through the week and justify your existence.

But if you don?t target that less than savory segment of the population so sought after by those insurers with the clever marketing schemes, you are not going to be a fan of this non-standard insurance business. They are going to bleed you dry by trying to save money on the repair. They won?t pay your labor rate. They will steer like hell to get their insured into one of their DRP shops. They?ll lie to the customer, telling them they can?t guaranty your work. They will do whatever it takes to keep the repair cost below market value.

You all know who causes you the headaches. Unfortunately, many of your customers are unaware of the dangerous trap that has been set for them by the incessant advertising. The large net cast by the big players in the non-standard insurance business is catching your customers. Their rates can be attractive to good drivers. And as long as your customers are not wrecking their cars, the level of service they receive from Progressive, Nationwide, Allstate, etc. is usually fantastic. It?s amazing how well these companies can accept premium payments.

Lately I?ve been using a new technique when dealing with customers insured by the axis of evil. The issue of underpayment and steering almost always arises when dealing with these customers. Invariably, they ask why their insurer is giving them such a hard time. ?Why must they make it so difficult? I pay my premiums on time, why do they try to nickel and dime me to death? Why do they want you to put counterfeit parts on my car??

I now answer, ?Because they are a non-standard insurer. They insure high risk people.? To an average hard working American, this is insulting. Not that I said it, but that they are insured by a non-standard insurer. Most respectable people have a lot of pride, and to tell them that their insurance company targets those people who stray from the path of respectability too many times, well it?s just not what they want to hear.

?Why did they insure me?? is usually the next question. I explain to them that they got caught in their net like a helpless dolphin gets caught in a tuna net. People love dolphins and feel real bad when they die in those terrible fish nets. After having to pay the labor rate difference and the difference between counterfeit parts and OEM parts, and then being made to feel like a poor, dead dolphin, boy, they do some serious thinking about where they are sending their next insurance premium.

You are in a position of power as a collision repairer. I know many of you feel helpless against those big evil corporations. But managed correctly, your customer will see that you are really the good guy (or girl) in this dysfunctional relationship we engage in with our customer and their insurance company.

No one wants to be known as ?non-standard.? In fact, non-standard is just a nice way of saying other less nice phrases. Let?s see, we have reckless teenager, frequent drunk driver, speeder, unsafe old fart, psychotic driver, too blind to drive, and the newest class, the over-paid-with-too-little-to-do casino Indians. Non-standard is a derogatory term to most of us. We like to be standard. We like to be normal. We like to think we are good drivers deserving of the finest automobile insurance money can buy, even if we don?t want to pay for it.

After reading this, you can be sure the insurance companies will be looking for another euphemism for their already euphemized ?non-standard? term. I can?t wait to see what they come up with. Remember ?used? and ?aftermarket? parts? Now we have ?quality replacement parts.? Same crap, friendlier name to trick the ?non-standard? drivers into thinking they are getting their money?s worth.


Something?s up at Progressive?s company headquarters in Cleveland Ohio lately. They have been spending hours on this website. The other day they were on the site for more than 6 hours, 6 HOURS! I have never spent that much time on my own site, including while developing it. What could be so damn interesting? Are they holding seminars? Are they studying the material and developing new strategies? Are they going to finally listen to what the collision repair industry is saying? Are they going to change their ways and start paying for real body parts? Will they start paying fair labor rates? Will they stop trying to steal half the paint time and materials from shops? Or are they just a couple of yahoos wasting company time on the internet?

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4 Comments on Are You a Standard or Non-Standard Repairer?

  1. Barrett/Fl on Thu, 27th Jan 2005 6:22 pm
  2. More and more we see people not wanting to employ their insurance in fear of ‘If You Use It…You’ll Lose It!!"

    I wish I owned a company that sells a product that people were deathly afraid to use!

    It’s liken to leasing a vehicle and being so afraid to go over in miles or get a scratch or ding to where the’ll come and take it away so you just lock it in the garage and not drive it until it’s time to turn it in!

    Crazy but it is the way it is with insurers and to make it worse is those "High Risk" drivers that feel lucky to get insurance that will be the first to cave when the insurers underpay them. These are the same one’s who will look to the repairer as the bad guy when push comes to shove.

    What to do…keep telling the truth, doing well what your paid to do and not doing what your not and have your clients get hold of a Post Repair Inspector.

    Document, Document, Document and get your TI case and have a ball.


  3. dp on Fri, 28th Jan 2005 7:06 pm
  4. I said it once Ill say it again it all points to organized crime they get away with it because the government allowes it period!

    The Big question on my mind is just how constitutional is it for the government to force its citizens to buy insurance in the first place??? with all the lawyers out there why dont some of you do a good thing for a change & challenge the constitutionality of this piracy???

    Racketering comes to mind along with extortion,fraud,missrepresenting, false & missleading policys and verbage designed to deceive its policy holders.

    Substandard repairs are usualy a direct result of some SUBSTANDARD INSURANCE COMPANY

  5. add safecp to your list on Sun, 30th Jan 2005 8:06 am
  6. i have been going with this crap with safeco on a cut and dried claim on a 2001 f350. adjuster came out and looked at the supplemental damage over a week ago. we cannot get him to fax a copy of the new estimate. phone calls are a waste of time "the adjuster is examining the paperwork" Thank God our work is only about 20 percent insurance

  7. JOHN DI VALENTINO on Mon, 10th Mar 2008 11:48 am

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and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

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