Repairers, Insurers Debate Consistency of DRPs at CIC - BodyShop Business

Repairers, Insurers Debate Consistency of DRPs at CIC

Repairers vented their frustrations about the lack of consistency in direct-repair programs (DRPs) last week at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) in Washington, D.C., and the takeaway was that it would probably always be this way due to insurance companies’ competitive nature with one another.

“There isn’t any consistency because every insurer has a different format,” said Al Estorga, owner of Estorga’s Collision Repair in Long Beach, Calif. “The only consistency is that a car is directed or referred to our shop in a manner that doesn’t constitute steering. But everything else is inconsistent – how you get a vehicle, how many times you should contact the policyholder, photos to take, writing estimates, charging for things, allowing certain processes to be done without asking the adjuster. This puts a lot of demands on small shops and their resources.”

“The line is blurring between insurers and repairers as far as customer satisfaction, and variation of DRPs causes a lot of stress in shops,” Estorga added.

The insurance company representatives who were part of the panel discussion and also members of the CIC’s Insurance Relations Committee attempted to explain the reason for that inconsistency.

“Every company uses different DRPs for different kinds of customers and different kinds of accidents. It’s more than just appraising a car,” said Mark Houde of Travelers. "Every customer has different expectations, and companies have different standards and policies, too.”

Allstate’s Randy Hanson added, “The insurance product itself is not that different. It’s the claims process that’s the differentiator, and we’re going to continue to push the envelope.”

Estorga admitted that there is a lot of differentiation between shops, too, and that perhaps shops themselves could also change their procedures in order to promote more consistency.

“We can’t keep blaming insurers for everything,” Estorga said.

Aaron Schulenberg, executive director of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists, supported Estorga’s comments by suggesting that repairers need to look inward.

“Repairers say, ‘This is what insurers are doing wrong,’ but we need to look at ourselves and ask, ‘How do I help myself?’” he said. “This is not a one-size-fits-all industry, and it’s the same with insurers.”

Trust, Estorga emphasized, is a big factor when it comes to consistency and efficiency in DRPs, and he believes there is much to work on there between insurers and repairers.

“Sometimes the mismanagement of a facility results in fraud; it’s not intentional but the way the shop is managed,” Estorga said. “But you need resources and constant work also to make it all work. The street-level insurance guys are either young guys or old bodymen who seem to know everything now. Bottom line is we need to establish trust.”

In these times when many shops are desperate for work, Michael Lloyd of California Casualty perhaps had the most interesting comment when it comes to shops that want to get on DRPs.

“Lots of people are calling wanting to get on our DRP, but only a handful have ever come to me to say, ‘This is what I can do for you and your customer,’” Lloyd said. “Everyone wants to know what our requirements are, but I would love them to say, ‘This is what you can expect from us.’”

With no real resolution in site, Rollie Benjamin, CEO of ABRA Auto Body & Glass, suggested that perhaps insurers and repairers could come up with one thing for DRP standardization that would be a win for all parties involved.

“After all, variation kills efficiency,” Benjamin said.

I-CAR Program Instructor Toby Chess also offered input on how to better the situation for all involved: “Insurers could ask themselves, ‘What kinds of things do I do that impede cycle time?’”

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