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July/August 2003

SHORESExpert Advice
pros who know

Drama Off the Cape
by Dave Shores

There is a drama being played out right now in the State of Massachusetts, and as I sit back, watch and listen, I wonder what the final effect will be on all of us. There have been a number of interesting twists in this small soap opera within the industry (see May/June 2003 AGRR, page 52, for related story.)

On one side of the issue, insurance companies want to save money by not replacing windshields that have a small rock chip in them. On the other side, the glass shops donít want to do repair if itís going to cost them money in the long run. Who can blame either of them?

From the Insurerís Point of View
Years ago, I sold property and casualty insurance here in Oregon, and I know first-hand that the insurance companies are in business to make money. The premiums they charge are affected directly by the amount they pay out in claims. In reality, we, the consumers, are the ones who pay in the end. If a high percentage of insureds have rock chips and have their windshields replaced, then the premiums charged by the insurance company will go up. 

The glass shop owners, on the other hand, have been making a profitable living selling and installing new windshields as old ones are damaged by rocks. Why would they want to repair a windshield for a percentage of what they have been making replacing it? The shop owners have stuck together and told the insurance companies they will only repair the windshields if they are paid a fair amount. 

Letís take a minute to look at what may happen. The glass shops may be paid around $100 to repair the windshield if the damage fits the criteria set by the Insurance Commissioner of the State of Massachusetts. This may be a workable solution, because the insurance companies will save money and the glass shops will be paid what many feel is a fair amount. 

What About the Chains?
The next concern I hear often is, ďWhat if a large chain of glass shops gets excited about repair and takes over a large share of the market?Ē Some are concerned that the 
little repair-only companies in Massachusetts that have been in business for some time may go out of business due to the lack of work. I donít think that is a reasonable argument. Consider that they have been doing business in a state that has not been favorable for windshield repair in the past. Their windshield repair service will now have better public recognition and be more in demand, and they will be paid more.

What happens in Massachusetts may eventually affect the way things are done in other parts of the country. Pricing for windshield repairs and decisions about repairable areas on the windshield are just a couple of the issues out there. We will just have to wait and see what the final outcome will be. 

Dave Shores is the vice president of Glas-Weld Systems of Bend, Ore., and a member of the National Windshield Repair Association board of directors.


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