Collision Industry Conference Dominated by Insurer-Repairer Talks

Jan. 18, 2018
The first Collision Industry Conference meeting of 2018 was dominated by discussions for how to improve repairer-insurer relations.

PALM SPRINGS, CALIF., Jan.18, 2018—The first Collision Industry Conference (CIC) of 2018 kicked off today at the Hilton in Palm Springs, Calif. featuring committee updates and agenda items from the organization, with the big item involving repairer-insurer relations.

The all-day conference became really interesting when the Insurer-Relations Relations Task Force introduced its newest member, Matt McDonnell, owner and president of Big Sky Collision, a three-location operation in Billings, Mont.

Clint Marlow, co-chair of the committee, and McDonnell both presented on the insurer’s perspective of the repairer’s perspective and vice versa.

The insurer’s playback of the repairer:

  • Wants to repair the vehicle properly
  • Views OE as the expert in how to repair the vehicle
  • Wants to follow repair procedures to help manage their liability
  • OE repair procedures are the first point of contact and where you go first
  • If you deviate from OE recommendation, then what do you go to?

The repairer’s play back of an insurer:

  • Wants to repair the vehicle properly
  • Believes the liability is a shared liability—attempting to mitigate liability by shifting it to another stakeholder creates friction
  • Repair procedures are important to consider, but there will be exceptions
  • Different stakeholders can have different motivations

FenderBender spoke with co-chair Doug Irish, who also sits on the Task Force, earlier in January and liability was a topic of conversation, with Irish saying that shops do need to take some responsibility for improper repairs.

The rise of industry lawsuits have amplified the issue of stakeholder liability.

“The challenge that I have is that whenever I see these lawsuits, it always claims that the insurance carrier is either prohibiting or preventing or demanding the shop fix a car improperly. I’ve always taken the position that the insurance companies don’t have anything to do with a repair,” Irish says. “They’re there to indemnify the owner of the vehicle to have the vehicle repaired, so the only control they have is how much they will pay for the repair and that’s what the shops need to negotiate: a fair price for fixing the car. “

As vehicles and repair procedures are changing so rapidly, Clint and McDonnell invited the audience to participate in a survey in what topics they would like to learn more about when it comes to insurer-repairer relations.

The categories were the following:

  1. Long-term impact of advanced vehicle safety systems in industry
  2. Repair procedures
  3. Additional insights into how an insurer operates
  4. Learning how to trust each other
  5. Creating estimates from images

Thirty-four percent of the audience was interested in learning more about the impact of advanced vehicle safety systems in the industry. The runner-up was the topic of repair procedures, with 25 percent of the audience voting for that option.

Marlow then invited the audience to participate in the survey a second time, but eliminating the option of the impact of advanced vehicle safety systems. In that run, repair procedures took the majority of the vote with 49 percent.

Outside of the insurance discussion, updates from the morning portion of CIC included the progress of glossary project developments and online wiki site from the definitions committee.  

The Glossary of Terms hasn’t been updated since 1997 and, today, the current draft is 62 pages long versus the original 31. New categories include “General Automotive Terms,” “Automotive Scanning Diagnostic, Calibration and Programming,” “Computer Terms with CIECA Glossary,” and “Recent Updates.”

The parts and materials committee touched on the issue of counterfeit parts and addressed some industry concerns as far as safety, repair procedures, parts procurement requirements and more.  

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