October 1, 2020 by Adam Malik
Drivers in Ontario can anticipate a smoother claims journey if collision repair shops in the province are certified in the future as expected, according to a pair of experts.
Currently, the national trade association that represents collision repairers is in discussion with the provincial government to make certification mandatory. Should certification get the go-ahead, repair facilities will have to follow minimum guidelines for tools, training, and business processes.
“From an insurance perspective, it … provides for the reassurance that the people they’re working with have in fact met minimum standard requirements and ensure they’re confident the repairs will be done properly,” explained J.F. Champagne, president of the Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA Canada), the national trade body for the automotive aftermarket, which includes mechanical and collision repair.
Insurance Bureau of Canada agrees, and it supports AIA Canada’s work to get the collision portion of its membership certified, said Ryan Stein, executive director of auto insurance policy and innovation at IBC. As carriers put greater focus on the claims journey, certification will help their clients, which means clients are more satisfied with working with their insurer after a collision.
“The claim experience is one of the most intense interactions between the insurer and their customer,” Stein told Canadian Underwriter. “The customer is not in a great state when they’re going through a claim — they were in a collision. The smoother that goes, the better that is for the customer.”
Part of the reason for certification is to ensure vehicles damaged in a collision are repaired properly and don’t need to return for additional repairs, Champagne told Canadian Underwriter. Additional repairs lead to increased costs for insurers and irritation for the client.
“If all repair facilities are at this certified standard, you have more confidence that process will go better for the customer,” Stein said. “Their vehicle will be repaired in a time that works for the customer. Their repair will be safe for the customer. And, even though no one wants to be in a claims experience, the experience goes as well as it can. The repair facility is an extremely important part of that.”
A smooth claims journey can help insurers boost client retention.
“I’m speculating,” Stein said, “but I would think that if the customer who is in a collision has a positive claims experience — their vehicle was repaired safely, and in a time that worked for them — then they would look at that as a positive experience with their insurer as well as the repair facility. So I think they would be more likely to renew with the insurer.”
Anytime someone who has damaged their vehicle goes through the claims process, it’s important that the customer believes the process was satisfactory, Stein added. “That boosts the [insurer’s] reputation in the mind of that customer. You want to do that one customer at a time, and shop certification is a way to do that.”
Repair costs for newer vehicles are already high, because of the technology and sensors built into them. Going back to have repairs done a second time can make the experience even more costly.
“We need to make sure the people fixing the cars are using the right tools, the right training, the right business processes to maintain consumer confidence that they’re fixing the car right the first time,” Champagne said.
Feature image by iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages