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Body shop accused of false report

by Andy Bourelle

The Nevada Office of the Attorney General recently announced Superior Collision Center Inc. of Gardnerville was found submitting a false insurance claim, but the body shop’s owner says it is a minor problem.

“They made it sound like we’re some big, bad body shop,” said Derick Peterson, Superior Collision Center’s owner. “It’s not like I’m some crooked thief. That’s not the case at all. We probably do the highest-quality work in Douglas County.”

Superior Collision Center was netted in an undercover sting operation by the attorney general’s office, in cooperation with the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).

In August 1996, the attorney general’s office sent out letters to Nevada automotive repair shops, informing them that they may be subject to the sting operation. In January 1997, undercover agents went to Superior Collision Center, according to Deputy Attorney General Eleanor Minsky. The investigators posed as people needing repairs on a 1992 Dodge on loan from the NICB.

According to the attorney general’s office, Superior Collision Center was caught when it submitted a false claim for payment to what it thought was the investigators’ auto insurance company.

Peterson said it was a $4,300 repair job, and there were two issues the attorney general’s office was concerned with. The first dealt with a door replacement. Superior Collision replaced the external panel of the door, or “door skin,” rather than the whole door. When the auto shop did this, it “spliced” the new door skin with part of the old one.

Peterson said this is how the shop has always done it, how all shops do it and a practice accepted by insurance companies. The reason the repair was considered fraudulent, Peterson said, is because the customer was not notified that part of the old door skin would remain.

“Because we did it that way, and didn’t tell the customer, they told me I was fraudulent,” Peterson said. “It’s a higher-quality repair for the customer. We’ve always done it that way. If it’s just a matter of notifying the customer, we will be happy to do that.”

The other issue dealt with a $90 wheel replacement which was not performed. While repairing the car, Peterson said, it was discovered that the wheel did not need replacing. Peterson said it was a mistake that he did not contact the insurance company.

“It was an oversight,” Peterson said. “It’s not like I was trying to make an extra $90 on a $4,300 job.”

As a result of the sting, Peterson has signed an Assurance of Discontinuance agreement with the state Consumer Affairs Division, which means the company will surrender for inspection all records and documentation relating to its auto body repairs for the next two years and obey all provisions of the Nevada Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Superior Collision Center must also pay a $2,500 fine and repay the insurance company $207.

Peterson maintains that the work provided by Superior Collision Center is of the highest quality, and the company offers a lifetime guarantee on all its work.

“We still back our work 100 percent,” he said. “I think we’re the best body shop in Douglas County, and we’ll continue to offer the best repair jobs.”

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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