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Be your customer's advocate

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - 07:00
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From filing a claim to finding the right body shop, being in a collision can be extremely stressful for your customers. You can be a huge asset to them during this time by understanding your state’s laws and explaining to customers what their rights are when it comes to collision repair.

The ABCs of collision repair — consumer rights

A] A customer's right to choose original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts begins with his or her insurance policy. Many insurance carriers offer policies that allow for OEM parts, and when it comes to vehicle safety and reliability, selecting that option is well worth the premium. Policies vary–some allow for OEM parts in every repair. Some allow for OEM parts depending upon the age of the vehicle, while others only use aftermarket, LKQ (like kind and quality) or Opt OE–i.e., gray market parts. Advise your customer to have a conversation with their insurance agent and ask the question, “Is my policy based upon OEM or like parts?”

B] Many states require disclosures if anything other than an OEM part is used in a repair, while other states may require the customer’s consent to use non-OEM parts. Some states do not have any of these protections. Research the rules in your state so that you can help your customers understand their rights.

C] The use of OEM parts also depends upon whether the customer is the insured (the one that caused the accident) or the claimant (the victim in the accident). If the customer is the insured, the use of OEM parts is dictated by the insurance policy. But if the customer is the claimant, the insured’s policy does not apply and it is the customer’s right to insist upon OEM parts. In this instance, your shop can assist the customer by inspecting aftermarket or alternative parts on an estimate in order to rebut a claim.

Your customers have rights — know them
“Often times, insurance companies dictate that structural parts be replaced with used components,” states Mike Anderson of Collision Advice. “It’s nearly impossible to duplicate the same type, size and diameter of a weld that has been designated by Toyota engineers.

The repaired part may not be as strong or might be too strong – and this may impact collision performance or airbag performance.”

Your customers have the right to choose your body shop, and they have the right to request OEM parts. But in some instances, an insurance company will dictate the use of aftermarket LKQ or Opt OE–i.e., gray market parts.

In those instances, you can inspect the used components to ensure that they perform to OEM standards of fit, finish and safety. Some attributes to look out for include:

• Weight versus the OEM part

• Amount, size and type of welds

• Metal strength–Toyota welds will be galvanized

• Crash test results–will the parts hold up the same in a collision?

• Headlamp brightness–measure lumens with a light meter and compare to the OEM part

The advanced technologies and sophisticated composite materials used in today’s vehicles are critical considerations in collision repair. Consider the example of a bumper repair. Some insurance companies may require the use of remanufactured bumper covers. But, if the vehicle is equipped with blind spot monitors, a non-OEM bumper could block the monitor and impact safety.

Be your customer’s advocate, help them understand their rights, and inspect non-OEM parts to confirm proper performance and help ensure a safe, quality repair. It’s important that your customers understand that only Genuine Toyota Parts are engineered to the exact specifications and tolerances of the particular vehicle for which they were created. They meet the highest standards of fit, finish and safety, giving you and your customers security and confidence in knowing their Toyota is still a Toyota.

Parts Terminology

OEM Part: A part designed by the vehicle manufacturer.

Aftermarket Part: A part produced by companies other than the OEM. These parts are sometimes referred to as “like kind and quality.”

Recycled Part: A used part or assembly that has been removed from another vehicle.

Reconditioned Part: A used part that has been repaired or rebuilt to appear like a new OEM part.

Genuine Toyota Remanufactured Part: A part designed to be an exact replacement for the original equipment Toyota part covered by a 12-month unlimited mileage warranty.

Find additional resources about customer rights and collision repair at www.crashrepairinfo.com.

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