Role Insurers Play in Body Shop Success

Bart Mazurek / Collision Repair, Insurance /

When it comes to customer service, the claims process represents a great opportunity for all stakeholders. This is especially true in APD claims, where the right technologies, communication efforts, and coordination among participants can help the vehicle owner efficiently finalize his/her claim, fostering lifelong loyalty.

What happens when there is a hiccup somewhere along the way? Everyone is familiar with the 80/20 rule. It can apply to APD claims as well: 80% of repairs associated with a claim may be completed in a timely manner, while 20% of claims-related repairs are delayed. There are myriad reasons why delays may occur, but complicating things even further are the number of stakeholders involved. Each of these stakeholders (agent, adjuster, desk
reviewer, shop manager, vehicle owner) are attempting to successfully manage the claims process through communication. Too many cooks stirring the stew? Not necessarily, because each has legitimate skin in the game, and each has a vested interest in a successful settlement.

Let’s walk through a possible scenario in which the insurer’s role is critical: Based on the original estimate, the vehicle owner is told by the appraiser/adjuster that the shop requires two weeks to finish the job. The repair shop then learns that, because, for example, the vehicle is a new model, some of the parts are not in inventory. So, the repairs will be delayed an additional two weeks. When the shop informs the vehicle owner of the delay, sparks fly. Meanwhile, the body shop tries to manage the vehicle owner’s expectations, while the vehicle owner angrily calls the agent. At some point, the vehicle owner catches up with the adjuster because he/she is upset that the rental agreement only covers two weeks—not four. If the insurer
is not fully aware of the problem, and is forced to scramble to find the answers, you can bet that the vehicle owner is already shopping for another insurer.

Interestingly, many of the challenges being faced by insurers in settling a claim relate directly to stakeholders’ lack of awareness of the process or misplaced assumptions; for example:

  • A vehicle owner assumes he/she can leverage the opportunity presented by the current claim to have the body shop fix a dent from a year ago. Because the shop is local, it wants to provide the best possible service, but the insurer considers the old dent to be unrelated prior damage, causing friction between the vehicle owner, the insurer, and ultimately the body shop. Because accidents don’t happen to people every day, consumers are often unfamiliar with the process and uncertain about the time, cost, and inconvenience they are about to face.
  • The agency—also a local entity—assumes it’s their responsibility to be directly involved in the claims process rather than managing the vehicle owner’s immediate and future insurance requirements. The agency personnel are well-meaning, looking out for their customer, but has forgotten that their role is not as the “middle man” and for obvious reasons, is likely better off letting the adjuster and shop manage the claim.
  • The vehicle owner’s desire for self-service leads them to assume, based only on a friend’s suggestion, that a certain local shop is qualified to handle their claim, when, in reality, the type of work done, and the type of vehicle worked on, could differ greatly, which may impact whether the shop is the best fit for the repair at hand. While these assumptions can form the foundation for insurers becoming a roadblock to effective claims management, the right technology and tools can help them prevent many of these issues from negatively impacting the vehicle owner’s settlement.

Opening the lines of communication between the insurer, adjuster, agency, shop, stakeholders such as rental providers, and the vehicle owner is made possible via intuitive automation that can personalize responses to the vehicle owner and update them as needed via text message as to the status of their repairs. The insurer, which is involved throughout the entire process, can witness in real time the status of the repairs, suggest solutions, and step in when necessary to proactively manage any potential conflict.

Let’s revisit the scenario above, in which the vehicle owner is upset about repair delays—but this time solutions are in place to promote transparency and proactive communications.

Here, the insurer understands the customer’s desire to conduct “self-research” and provides them with the web address, which includes consumer reviews for the listed shops. Once the consumer chooses their desired shop, the shop may authorize the insurer through technology and tools to view communications between the shop and the vehicle owner. As the shop sends a text message and an email to the vehicle owner informing them of the delays, the vehicle owner questions the rental agreement which likely did not initially account for the additional time now required for repairs. This time, however, the insurer’s adjuster is automatically provided with a view of the communication. Although the agent
has posted the insurer’s 800# on its website, the insurer, is now able to proactively intercede, either sending a text, email or making an actual call to the vehicle owner, explaining the rental car coverage limits, and agreeing to extend those limits for the two weeks required to finalize the repairs.

Now happy with the repair shop and insurer, the vehicle owner is grateful—not angry and frustrated—and the insurer’s approach to customer engagement has won this vehicle owner’s business for life.

By understanding customers’ modern-day preferences (texting), and proactively managing expectations, the insurer has reduced the amount of stress on the entire value chain, and improved business relations with all stakeholders. This win-win approach can easily apply to assumptions, questions about coverage, and delays across a spectrum of claims situations.

Download the PDF.