By Dick Strom, owner of Modern Collision Rebuild in Bainbridge Island, WA
fellow shop owners we know your time is precious, so we will keep this message
brief and to the point, asking only that you carefully consider its importance
on the future and prosperity of your business.
Then join with us of the Consent Decree Community, in demanding
enforcement of the 1963 Consent Decree.
Continuing in the present insurer-repairer-relations path will only make
all our businesses (collision, mechanical, glass, and parts/materials jobbers)
more unprofitable, and put many of us out of business.
In short, we're asking you to join with the hundreds of shops already
signed on in actively supporting the mission of the C.D. Community in seeking
legal enforcement of this crucial Decree.
Enforced, it will greatly aid in returning free enterprise in all our
businesses. Ignoring it, or assuming others will take up this cause in your
stead, will adversely impact the way you do future business.
the 1963 Consent Decree decrees:
In November 1963, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), headed by then
Attorney General Robert Kennedy, settled a class action it had brought against
265 insurance companies, in which the association officers of these companies
signed a Consent Decree, known as the 1963 Consent Decree.
Though these insurers never admitted previous wrongdoing, in signing this
Decree they agreed to abide by its terms from that day forward -
"perpetually" forbidding them from carrying out conspiracy to restrain
interstate trade and commerce.
In short, this decree orders them to refrain from "fixing,
establishing, maintaining or otherwise controlling the prices to be paid for the
appraisal of damage, or to be charged by shops for repair".
Though insurers have since returned to the abusive practices that
fostered this Decree, they haven't nullified it.
Enactment of The Decree resulted from the efforts of a small number of
repair shop owners discriminated against by the conspiratory, controlling
tactics of insurance companies which had brazenly, illegally banded together
under the Combined Claims Committee (CCC) to control collision repair prices.
Basically, each CCC member-insurer selected one favored appraiser or
appraisal firm in each market area - to the exclusion of others - to receive all
of the participating insurerís adjusting work, as long as this adjuster worked
within the guidelines that the CCC established and controlled.
In the words of Silvie Licitra, well-respected collision industry writer
and a collision repairer during that era, resultant payoffs and corruption were
rampant because the selected appraiser fixed the labor rates, required arbitrary
discounts on parts, and held firm to the labor times published in a guide.
These appraisers also had shops with which they had unwritten agreements
that their estimates would be accepted, sight unseen.
"Those appraisers all had their hands out and if you didn't pay them
off, they'd write lousy estimates (creating) a take-it-or-leave-it situation,
the shop being faced with losing the job if they didn't play ball (with
Sounds all too familiar, doesn't it?
the 1963 Consent Decree presently stands:
The DOJ's original enactment and enforcement of the provisions of the 1963 Consent Decree temporarily forced insurers to cease many of the insurance abuses they had previously foisted against consumers and collision repairers. But as older repairers retired, leaving the younger generation with no knowledge of the Decree or the insurance abuses that led to its enacting, insurers incrementally resumed modified variations of the same abusive practices that the Consent Decree forbade. And so, today we are again faced with insurer-steering, forced discounts, dictated parts procurement, and other abuses which the Decree strictly forbade.
the ConsentDecree.com Community is doing:
The Consent Decree Community is a rapidly growing team of concerned
businesspeople seeking means of restoring enforcement of this Federal Consent
C.D. Community has become the focal point for the energy, research, and
diligence necessary to bring about industry, consumer, and thus legislative
awareness of this Decree, and in educating the repair industry how enforcement
of the C.D. will benefit consumers, service providers, and all related
industries, in reestablishing free-enterprise.
Your help is needed to assure re-enforcement of the 1963 Consent Decree.
Though insurers would like us to believe otherwise, the provisions of the 1963
Consent Decree are just as binding today on those insurers that signed it, and
their many descendents, as it was then.
Recent contact with the DOJ concerning enforcement of the C.D. indicates
they are willing to pursue its re-enforcement only if they have the solid
backing of the Congressmen and many businesspeople thus affected, in every
what you must do to assure C.D.'s re-enforcement:
Access our website, www.consentdecree.com,
and join the Consent Decree Community. (though it has been temporarily
misplaced, this law is on our side).
Then, access the C.D. website each week for updates.
Read up on the issues (the CD website will provide all the information you need
to become adequately informed and actively involved).
Read and re-read the text of this Consent Order to realize its intended
purpose and how compromise has impacted your future livelihood.
Contact your state and federal senators and congressmen: Personal contact is
always best, but at very least call or write to voice your concerns.
Keeping in mind that these are busy people, concisely yet accurately word
your concerns over the impact that lack of enforcement of C.D. has had on all
consumers and your business.
Educate your customers, industry association members, and legislators on the
content of the C.D., and the impact its disregard has had upon our economy.
Hand deliver or send copies of the Consent Decree (easily downloaded from www.consentdecree.com)
to all your insurance agents, supervisors, adjusters and appraisers.
Better yet, send them "certified mail" and send photocopies of
the "green" receipts to the Consent Decree address below (some
insurance personnel have been instructed by their companies to not read this
Decree so they can plead ignorance when their abuses are eventually exposed).
Financially support the C.D. community: Though the C.D. has no membership dues,
the costs related to enforcing this pivotal Decree (including many meetings with
the DOJ) are immense.
Whatever you can donate to this cause is very much appreciated, and we
pledge that your money will not be misused.
Send copies of all insurer-generated paperwork that incriminates insurers on
discrimination, or other of their many abusive practices, to:
P.O. Box 325, Lionville, PA. 19353