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Effective collision repair negotiation starts with education, training

Monday, April 17, 2017 - 06:00
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I’ve been receiving a lot of positive feedback about my Achieving, maintaining OEM certifications will be key to sustainability column. People ask me, “What’s next, and how do we communicate the information in your article to insurers?” My suggestion is to educate your insurers by using the documents and processes available to you.

I was in a shop recently and overheard an estimator talking with an insurance adjuster about using a used quarter panel to repair a vehicle. The estimator referred to a statement from an OEM position paper stating that used weld-on panels are not recommended for use in collision repairs. The insurance adjuster said that wasn’t good enough because it was only a recommendation and not a requirement. 

We can argue the meaning of recommendation, but the estimator had a better justification available to him, he just didn’t know it. So I stepped in and acted as a mediator. I asked the estimator to look up the repair procedures for quarter panel replacement on the vehicle. As the three of us reviewed the process we found that the OEM required the quarter panel to be resistance welded during replacement. 

During this education process the insurance adjuster learned it would be impossible to resistance weld an LKQ quarter panel after a spot weld cutter was used to remove it from the donor vehicle. I asked the estimator to copy and paste that statement into the line note after selecting an OEM quarter panel as the method of repair.

This statement provided the justification the insurance adjuster needed to explain to his supervisor why the OEM quarter was selected. Knowing the OEM repair procedures proved beneficial in this discussion, and using the cited repair process allowed the repair to move forward with little or no debate. I believe insurance adjusters are just like you and me, they have to report to a supervisor and need to be able to justify what they allow on a damage appraisal. 

As we move through the wave of change I talked about in my earlier article we need to rethink the way we discuss repairs with insurers. We need to step away from negotiating a repair based on opinion and desire, to educating how a repair should be accomplished using OEM processes.

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