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The results are in from the Society of Collision Repair Specialists’ (SCRS) second annual survey, and repairers have spoken loud and clear that they’re still concerned about insurer influence.
The survey, conducted by CSi Complete customer satisfaction indexing, echoes the concerns revealed by last year’s survey. Some issues, such as "insurer dictating the repair," "lack of insurance field staff training," and "database abuse/manipulation" scored worse than in 2007. Information from the survey indicates that the representative sample of DRP and non-DRP participants finds it increasingly difficult to run their businesses profitably, due in large part to what they perceive to be undue influence and interference on the part of insurers.
"The results are troubling, but they certainly aren’t surprising," said SCRS Chairman Gary Wano, Jr. "They reinforce the reality that the collision repairer – once the embodiment of the independent businessperson – is exercising less and less control over his or her own business. There seems to be less incentive to run an effective operation because something – or someone – is always getting in the way."
Suppressed labor rates, lack of insurance field staff training, losing customers to steering, database abuse/manipulation and insurer dictating the repair in that order were the areas that repairers said had the most total impact on their businesses.
The survey also asked participants to rank those insurers that had the most dramatic impact on each of the nine categories: suppressed labor rates, lack of insurance field staff training, losing customers to steering, database abuse/manipulation and insurer dictating the repair, refusal to acknowledge P-pages, DRP requirements, third-party desk reviews and fear of reprisal or threats from insurer.
Progressive was ranked as having the highest impact in every category but DRP requirements, fear of reprisal or threats, and third-party desk reviews. State Farm had the highest impact in DRP requirements and fear of reprisal, while Farmers had the highest impact in third-party desk reviews.
Another part of the survey asked respondents to characterize their relationships with 13 different insurance carriers, choosing from one of the following descriptions: business partner, customer, company I work with out of necessity, adversary and no impact. State Farm ranked highest as business partner, while Travelers ranked lowest. Progressive ranked highest as an adversary, while Travelers and State Farm tied for lowest.
The overall results indicated that repairers still do not prefer the term "partner" to describe their business relationships with insurers. Only State Farm was defined by a majority of participants as a partner. The prevalent description in every other case was "customer."
The survey also asked participants to rate their relationship with each of the included insurers on a 0 to 10 scale, with 10 being the highest and 0 being the lowest. State Farm got the highest rating, while Progressive got the lowest.
"Obviously, what we’ve been trying so far is not working," said Wano. "That doesn’t mean we should give up, but it does mean that we have to try different things. This need would not have been as apparent without the results of the survey, which lays it all out in black and white. It’s a call to action, really, a tool that underscores the necessity to try out-of-the-box thinking to ensure that ‘Working Together Is the Most Important Work We Do’."