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FEATURE Insurers and
Scanning: A “Very Big Disrupter” State Farm Claim Consultant/P&C Claims Chris Evans calls pre- and post-repair scans “a very big disrupter,” one of the biggest he’s experienced in his 30 years with the company. The amount of money associated with the procedures is relatively small, yet the discussions that accompany them persist, popping up again and again like in Whack-A-Mole. In an effort to provide direction, a number of car manufacturers published position papers last year that offered clarity but came with additional confusion. For example, General Motors said this in October: “All vehicles being assessed for collision damage repairs must be tested for Diagnostic Trouble Codes during the repair estimation. Additionally, the vehicle must be retested after all repairs are complete.” In their statement issued last June, Nissan agreed with GM up to a point. All Nissans should be scanned following a collision repair, but pre-scans are recommended only “where appropriate.” Mark Allen, the collision programs and equipment manager for Audi, has not yet written a position statement, but based on what the company’s engineers tell him, he’s inclined to go with only post-repair scans. He believes pre-repair scans have a higher probability for abuse than use. “It depends on what machine you use, who does [the scan], and do they follow the guided fault finding in the repair,” he says.
Small wonder that Evans says, “I would like to have the car companies play a more specific and definitive role in this.” Then there’s the matter of the estimating companies. The portion of the collision repair industry that’s supposed to do the studies and come up with the times for specific repair procedures has been missing in action when it comes to scans. As Evans observes, “The estimators really need to be front and center.” The insurance companies apparently are boxing shadows when it comes to tackling the matter of whether to pay (and how much) for scans. In an effort to get a more precise sense of what they are thinking, Hammer & Dolly contacted the 10 largest auto insurers in the United States and the largest international insurer. State Farm and GEICO, numbers one and two in the American market, responded with interviews. Numbers three, five and seven – Allstate, USAA, and Liberty Mutual – showed interest, but didn’t come through with anyone to talk to before deadline. Farmers (#6) and Nationwide (#8) said they didn’t have anyone available to discuss the issue. Travelers (#10) declined to participate. Progressive (#4) and American Family (#9) did not respond. Chubb, the large international company, went with “no comment,” an understandable reaction after the media relations disaster precipitated in December by one of its regional US tech specialists who proclaimed
in an email that Chubb would allow pre- and post-repair scans on all cars 1990 model year and later. No sooner did the email hit the street then Chubb labeled it premature and proceeded to walk it back, saying that the company policy is to evaluate each repair for the worthiness of pre- and/or post-repair scans. An 18 percent success rate isn’t what was hoped for, but the two who did cooperate are the largest automobile insurers in the country. State Farm and GEICO have a combined market share of just under 30 percent. Joe Lacy, GEICO’s director of performance review – “I manage the folks who go out and audit our adjusters,” he says – insists that GEICO feels pre- and postrepair scans are needed and will pay for them. “We are not going to argue,” he says. “All the manufacturers say it’s necessary. We’ve made the commitment. We are going to do it. How do you argue with manufacturing? It’s a requirement.” Within GEICO, the problem isn’t resistance, but inertia. In all large corporations, there’s perfunctory communication and real communication. The former is the plethora of emails and memos that employees barely read and rarely follow. The latter is the notes and guidance from direct supervisors that indicate clearly what action needs to be taken. The former travels quickly
Official Publication of the Washington Metropolitan Auto Body Association (WMABA)