Volume 11, Issue 1 - January/February 2009

Ready, Set, Learn!
NWRA Annual Conference Offered Information on Everything from Green to Internet Marketing to Insurance Know-How
by Penny Stacey

The National Windshield Repair Association (NWRA)’s annual convention covered a variety of topics, from green ideas, to marketing online, to dealing with insurers, on November 7. The annual event was held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas as part of Auto Glass Week in Las Vegas.

Insurance Issues
One of the most popular panels of the conference was an insurance panel of two State Farm representatives and a LYNX participant.

State Farm’s national glass manager Bob Bischoff and manager of glass claims services Maura Crittendon, along with LYNX Services’ Chris Umble, vice president of strategic initiatives, took center stage during the insurance panel. But Bischoff was quick to note that the panel really was not an inclusive “insurance panel.”

“I’d like to see some other insurers here,” he said. “I think they’re missing an opportunity.”

The panel focused both on how the insurers view the concept of “green”—a concept the NWRA has focused on its green initative—and how they view repair in general.

Umble noted that while “green” initiatives and environmental friendliness are important, efficiency is as well—and the two go hand in hand.

“We’ve done an awful lot to automate the industry,” Umble said. “Did we set out to do this because it was green or because it was efficient? Well, honestly, because it was efficient.”

Once the green discussion was complete, the real work began: Bischoff attempted to dispel myths that the company “has gotten out of the repair business.”

“We do pay for repairs,” he said. “We do the exact same thing on the repair side that we do on the replacement side.”

In the past, the company has waived deductibles for repairs; i.e., even though typically a repair costs much less than a deductible, the company would pay for the service in full. State Farm has ceased this practice in most areas, except for those in which deductibles for auto glass repair are waived by law. 

“It was never our intention to waive deductibles forever,” Bischoff said.

Auto Glass Trends and Training
Mark Gold of Solutia Inc. followed the panel with an update on automotive trends in glass, including laminated sidelites, tinted glass, etc. 

After Gold’s presentation, approximately 15 technicians participated in the hour-long NWRA training certification course taught by Delta Kits’ Wade Schlichenmayer. The exam followed, and on Saturday morning, several technicians also completed their practical assessments as well and were able to become fully certified during the conference.

Though much information was provided throughout the event, one of the most popular remained the insurance panel.

“The thing I think was the most important aspect of the meeting was the ability to mingle with all the industry giants and get their perspectives on the business,” said attendee Kerry Soat of Fas Break in Prescott, Ariz. “ … I believe it is our responsibility to have meaningful dialogue with the insurance companies so they get our perspective of the business and not just from the major glass dealers … It also gave me a chance to offer ideas, pleas, and some demands for State Farm to revisit their outlook on repairs.” 

Next year’s conference is scheduled for November 6, 2009, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.

Penny Stacey is the editor of AGRR magazine.


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