CCC’s 2017 ‘Crash Course’ offers look at scan, calibration pricing

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The realization that vehicle diagnostics needed to be a regular part of collision repairs shook up the auto body and insurance world in 2016, and CCC’s 2017 Crash Course provides data into how such OEM requirements are shaking out in actual claims.

The average pre-repair scan comes in at $125 a claim, as does the average post-repair scan, according to CCC’s free annual industry report.

“Analysis of uploaded vehicle appraisals reveal the cost per scan ranges anywhere from $75 to $169; reflecting the fees charged to the shop for each scan by a third-party scanning service as well as additional labor time sometimes added by the shop for the time spent running the scan,” CCC wrote. “Scan fees are incurred whether DTC fault codes are found or not.”

(For the record, CCC did draw attention to the possibility scanning and calibration would be needed in the 2016 edition of “Crash Course.” The 2015 report, however, does not appear to contain any references to “scanning” or “diagnostics.”)

CCC lead industry analyst and “Crash Course” lead author Susanna Gotsch said in an interview this month that “the range of fees is pretty broad” for diagnostics, and there’s a hope that more standardization can occur. She said that when she visits shops, the time to scan a vehicle can vary “quite a bit” as well.

Adding $250 in scanning to every vehicle with such requirements under OEM procedures is “a little harder to digest” for a carrier when an insurer’s average repairable claim was $2,861 in 2016 and $2,757 in 2015, according to CCC and Gotsch.

“That’s 10 percent additional severity,” she said.

Gotsch said that in general, the industry seemed to be “pretty evenly” divided between using Collision Diagnostic Services’ asTech (which connects a car to an OEM scan tool housed at CDS) and outsourcing to a dealership. Not many shops were opting to buy all the OEM scan tools themselves, she said.

Calibration — making sure all of the electronic features you scanned will operate correctly following a collision, loss of power or R&I/R&R operations — is appearing on claims as well, according to Gotsch and CCC.

Some claims are “pretty substantial” with calibration requirements, even reaching above $2,000 for that work alone. Whether a shop performs the work in-house or outsources it can be a “pretty big difference” in cost as well, she said.

However, mechanical-rate calibration times do exist in CCC’s estimating platform, Gotsch said, giving the example of 1.5 hours to calibrate the distance sensor for an unspecified Mercedes.

In general, CCC found an average labor time of between 0.2 hour and 6 hours to complete calibration procedures, at an average hourly rate of $45. (Which is interesting, because the estimating service also found the average 2016 body rate was $47.85 and average mechanical rate was $82.02.)

Asked if shops are scanning vehicles but not calibrating them — which some experts have suggested could happen at uninformed facilities — Gotsch said she hadn’t formally studied the issue. However, she said more anecdotal spot-checks typically indicate shops are both scanning and calibrating cars. (Hooray!)