February 27, 2023 • Vol. 30, No. 9


TOW-IN REFUSALS: Accident management and driver assistance firm Agero, which coordinates towing for more than 20 of the largest insurers, reports that more than 29,000 vehicles for which it arranged a tow to a body shop in 2022 were turned away by the shop (CRASH 1/9/23). Is there any pattern to the vehicles that U.S. body shops refused to take in? CRASH Network analyzed data about the vehicles provided by Agero, which reports seeing “a pretty staggering increase” in such “refusals.” Agero experienced 50% more towed-in vehicles turned away this past December, for example, than the prior December. Looking at the types of vehicles refused offers some possible reasons. More than 4,000 (about 14%) were 2007 or older vehicles, which even with last year’s strong used vehicle values might well have eventually been declared total losses. Not every shop is going to work on a 1955 Ford Model 40, a 1965 Chevy Impala, or a 1979 Lincoln Mark V (all on the list). More than 8 percent may have been vehicles not all shops are equipped or certified to repair, including from manufacturers like Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Land Rover, Volvo, Maserati, Alfa Romeo or Jaguar. But the bulk of the vehicles appear to be the bread-and-butter work of many shops: Nearly 22,000 (about 75%) were 10-years-old or newer, including nearly 5,800 Honda, Nissan or Toyota sedans, and about 2,500 domestic or foreign small pick-ups. In most of those cases, it seems likely the shop refusal must’ve been based on the shop simply not having the capacity to bring another vehicle into their facility. “Whatever the reason for a refusal, each occurrence creates delays, headaches and extra costs for customers, carriers, towers, and firms like Agero,” Ben Zatlin, who leads Agero’s accident management unit, said. He says his company would like to see an industry solution that better synchs up insurer assignments with shops that have the capability and capacity to accept those towed-in vehicles. He said some insurers appear to have processes or technology in place to do this much better than others. Among the Top 10 insurance carriers that are Agero clients, he said, “the best-in-class carrier has a body shop refusal rate that is about one-third the rate of the worst, a strong indication that carrier-specific processes or technologies are driving differences in body shop refusal rates.”