Is TIMS an Opportunity for Independent Shops?
March 25, 2021—TIMS, that's Toyota Insurance Management Solutions, isn't exactly breaking news.
Jeff Hilton, Toyota dealer programs manager, western region, says TIMS is a joint venture between Toyota Financial Services International Corp, Toyota Connected, and Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance out of Japan.
"Our mission is to partner with insurance companies, to offer innovative products and really empower Toyota drivers," Hilton says. "We were formed as an agency so we could work with other carriers."
The year 2020 was a turning point in terms of how much data, including data on driving, most Toyota vehicles from that model year could share via telematics, says Hilton.
"That gives the driver the opportunity to share that data, use that data instead of the traditional insurance data," he says. "It could get them a discount if they're a safe driver."
Customers buying a new Toyota can opt to buy an insurance policy via TIMS at the point of purchase. In doing so, they authorize use of their driving data towards possible insurance discounts, says Hilton.
"It reinforces their decision to buy a car that's smart enough to save them money," he says.
Leon Dean, Toyota director of sales and service operations, says TIMS offers customers a clearer picture of their investment, as they are making it, by giving them the opportunity to see the cost of their car alongside the cost of their insurance.
“One of the quick snapshots of that is, if you know the insurance rate of the new car you’re going to buy, it may give you a better picture of your overall budget," he says.
How could this help shops?
Hilton says Toyota dealerships are being offered the chance to partner with TIMS to offer insurance at the point of sale, creating an "one-stop shop."
The goal, he says, is forging a stronger bond with customers.
"What we're looking for is that additional touchpoint, that trusted touchpoint at the dealership," Hilton says. "A Toyota customer can further their relationship with a dealership on a more personal level."
It's that customer's relationship with the dealership that Hilton says is an opportunity for collision repairers, noting there are only about 200 Toyota-certified collision centers in the country. With a gap in certified Toyota repairers (shops must be partially owned by a dealership to be qualified to become certified), shops with the training and expertise to handle Toyota vehicles could become go-to repairers for dealerships.
"It's more of an opportunity for independent [auto body shops], I think," Hilton says, "to align themselves with Toyota dealerships to get that relationship."
As far as consumers are concerned, Hilton says TIMS is still essentially a new product.
"It just literally is rolling out, we are at the start of establishing the identity for TIMS," he says. "Customers are just starting to learn about us."
"Here's an opportunity for Toyota customers to save money on auto insurance," Hilton says. He adds that TIMS allows drivers to "be able to talk to the dealership as experts about anything about their vehicle."