Auto body shop owners and employees converged on the Massachusetts State House on Wednesday demanding relief from collision repair rates that they say have not been increased in 11 years.
Event organizers at The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of Massachusetts blame insurance companies for setting "unsustainably low rates" and made their point with a large crowd of attendees and flatbed trucks carrying damaged cars that circled the area as part of the State House rally.
According to Brian Bernard, co-owner of Total Care Accident Repair, the $40-per-hour reimbursement rate is the lowest in the nation and "falls far short of covering the body shop owners' labor, equipment, training and repair costs," which he says causes many consumers to "have to pay the difference out of pocket."
"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 in a statement.
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The association says the labor rate has increased only $10 since 1988 while the Consumer Price Index has increased 137.7% and insurance premiums have increased 254%.
Sen. Michael Moore says he is continuing a push for "legislative change that increases the labor rate to make the industry viable and consumers safe."
The issues were aired in September 2021 before the Joint Committee on Financial Services, and a Special Commission on Auto Body Labor Rates issued its report on the topic last month. Scheduled speakers Wednesday include Rep. James Hawkins and former Sen. Guy Glodis, as well as "concerned consumer" Dennise Caratazzola, and the owners of Cape Auto Collision Center and Total Care Accident Repair in Raynham.