Photo Estimates Questioned at CIC Gathering

April 20, 2017
A large gathering discussed hot-button topics, such as technician training, pre- and post-repair scanning and autonomous vehicles.

PITTSBURGH, Pa., April 20, 2017—A two-day Collision Industry Conference gathering got underway on Wednesday at Pittsburgh’s Sheraton Station Square, and collision repair’s rapid evolution served as a central theme for most speakers.

A large gathering (30 percent of those on hand in Pittsburgh were attending their first CIC meeting) discussed important topics, such as technician training, pre- and post-repair scanning and autonomous vehicles.

The hot-button issue for a large portion of Wednesday’s session, however, was Pennsylvania’s Act 13 of 2016, with which repairers voiced concern. Act 13, an amendment to the Appraiser Act for that state, notes that appraisers may use photographs, videos or telephonic means to prepare an estimate. Jordan Hendler, executive director with the Washington Metropolitan Auto Body Association, took to a crowd microphone and expressed concerns about such law changes, on multiple fronts.

Hendler asked a representative of the Pennsylvania Insurance Department (PID) that was in attendance at Wednesday’s CIC meeting if it planned to review Act 13. The PID representative promised to review the law change, though he said he hadn’t yet heard any customer complaints in his state.

Hendler suggested the possible implementation of a disclaimer that thoroughly explained to customers about photo-based estimates or appraisals, and at least alluded to the fact that a photo-based appraisal may not be a full and complete estimate of damages.

“We understand that it’s an efficiency for the claims process,” Hendler said, “but we see it as a potential loss for customers, at, No. 1, having an education of what’s going on with their car—but [also] No. 2: Is that car even safe to be driven?”

At the start of Wednesday’s CIC gathering, Anna Michalski seized the crowd’s attention.

Michalski, who appeared on FenderBender’s February cover, spoke with poise and confidence as she was honored as the Collision Repair Education Foundation’s 2016 student of the year.

Michalski, who was steered toward collision repair while studying at Western Area Career & Technology Center in Canonsburg, Pa., said she enjoys the chance to break from stereotypes by embarking on a career in a largely male-dominated industry. She feels more females―and young people in general―need to consider careers in collision repair.

“We need to encourage students who don’t think they can do this,” Michalski said on Wednesday.