an iga viewpoint
Using Technology to Service Our Customers
by Alan Epley
On Friday, February 11, I had the privilege of attending an auto glass
industry summit in Scottsdale, Ariz. Joining the summit were the board
of directors of the Independent Glass Association (IGA), a number of respected
industry representatives from point-of-sale providers, retailers and others.
As many of you have probably heard by now, the IGA is spearheading the
initiative to develop technology standards to streamline the insurance
claims process, from first notice of loss (FNOL) to closing the claim.
The purpose of the summit was to introduce the concept to the industry
and to initialize the process. A number of interested professionals already
have signed up to be on the committees. Participation is open to any industry
professional that has an interest in improving the insurance claims process.
The IGA’s board of directors strongly believes that technological standards
will be a win-win-win for policyholders, glass shops and insurance companies
alike. We all are aware that there are a number of issues confronting
the industry from customer service to fraud, and I believe that standards
incorporating the use of state-of-the-art technology will allow the industry
to improve the process, reduce the incidence of fraud, and, most importantly,
make the entire process user-friendly for the folks we all want to please—the
process should be a pleasurable experience for the policyholder …”
The best way for me to illustrate how technological standardswould be
beneficial for all is to discuss some stages of the claims process. Let’s
examine the FNOL. Under current procedures, a policyholder must report
his loss to an agent, a third-party administrator or an insurance company’s
claims department. We all can agree that the overhead involved in this
process is excessive (though it does not need to be). In addition, we
know that it is common for a policyholder to be involved in a telephone
call that sometimes lasts in excess of 20 minutes, a reality that should
not be acceptable to the shop or the insurance company—and certainly not
The claims-reporting process should be a pleasurable experience for the
policyholder and one with which the insurance companies should be overly
concerned. With the use of technology, the policyholder or his representative
should be able to report the claim online, delivering the necessary information
directly to the insurer or representative, making the initial impression
of the insurance company a satisfactory one.
Some insurers have undertaken measures to prevent fraud, especially as
some auto glass companies have begun marketing their services directly
to consumers. In an effort to combat fraud, insurers sometimes are sending
inspectors to confirm reported damage to a windshield, which delays our
industry’s ability to service a customer. The IGA has heard from some
members that have had inspections delay work for more than a week. Again,
the name of the game is to service our mutual customers and I think that
everyone would concur that this type of time delay is unacceptable.
By introducing technology in the effort to fight fraud, a shop or mobile
technician can use digital photography to take photographs of the damaged
area and can send these images electronically to their insurance companies
or representatives to confirm the damage. The insurer and/or its representative
then can verify the damage and validate the claim instantly. Again, it’s
a win-win-win opportunity for all involved and will drastically improve
I hope that you all share my excitement, enthusiasm and determination
to succeed in the development of technology standards as the best effort
to improve customer service and to level the industry’s playing field.
I can think of no reason why this initiative would not be widely embraced
across all industries involved, and I encourage everyone to participate
in the process. Standards will streamline the entire insurance claims
process, making it both a pleasant and economical experience for all involved.
Alan Epley is president of the Independent Glass Association (IGA).
He also serves as president of Southern Glass and Plastic in Columbia,
S.C. Mr. Epley’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those
of this magazine.
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