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Do You Bill for DTC Research Time?

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April 12, 2021Are you billing insurers for time spent researching diagnostic trouble codes? Well, if you’re like many of the respondents who participated in the Scanning and Calibration “Who Pays for What?” Survey, the answer is no.

According to the survey, nearly half of all respondents have never asked insurer partners to pay for the research time—regardless of insurer. And, unfortunately, of those that did negotiate for the time, only 29 percent were paid “always” or “most of the time.” The results remained consistent across all insurance companies, with little diversity when it came to “always” “most of the time” “sometimes” or “never” reimbursing for the time. The responses also differed little whether a shop was part of a DRP, except for in the case of State Farm, where DRP shops tended to fare better in seeking reimbursement.

“This was a new procedure we added to the survey this year. It is my position that diagnostic time should be separated from the scan labor operation because there are many variables involved. It’s similar to how repair times will vary based on the substrate involved and the size and location of the damage. Diagnostic time will vary based on the number of diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) the vehicle has, and how easily they can be identified and researched in the OEM procedures,” said Mike Anderson, Collision Advice founder and partner in the survey.  “The flow-charts for that process can vary in length, and the issue might be resolved early in the troubleshooting process or require multiple steps."

However, in an interview with FenderBender, Anderson said he expected the percentage of shops billing and being paid regularly for this time to increase in 2021 as the industry becomes more educated. He pointed heavily to the number of shops that said they never sought to be paid for this process and emphasized the need to document, document, document. 

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