Volume 14, Issue 5 - September/October 2012

Ask The Doctor
pros who know

Who Gets the Refund and Who Gets Dinged
by Richard Campfield

I have noticed that nothing has been said about the consumer in any of the legislative attempts to have free enterprise in the auto glass industry (see page 14 for more). How the third-party administrator (TPA) interference with the market is hurting the consumer has never been broached by the lobbyists and not considered or investigated by the legislators. An opposing attorney jumped on it by stating “Who is being damaged?” Too much about “me” in it, I guess, which may be why the attempts are failing. No one is showing what is being done to the consumer. I wonder why?

The purpose of free enterprise is to protect competition because it, in turn, protects the consumer. Perhaps some auto glass companies are no different than the networks and TPAs when it comes to the consumer. After all, what is the consumer getting that is different when they go to an independent versus a network? What might that be? Well, I repair and replace as a non-participant. Consumers are very hurt on the repair side. There is no disclosure of the repair benefits made when it is a repair versus replacement situation. It is a completely different script after they ask the “longer than a dollar bill” question.

Manufacturer-Insurer Conflict of Interest
When it comes to repair, a windshield manufacturer that is also TPA has both a financial interest and a conflict of interest: whether it is repaired or replaced, and where the repair or replacement takes place. The repair versus replacement ratio is the repair ratio excluding chip repairs. It is the crack repair versus the replacement ratio. That is when it is repair versus replacement. Those that repair per the repairable dimensions of the Repair of Laminated Automotive Glass Standard (ROLAGS™) have repair versus replacement ratios above 50 percent, which shows what the consumers will choose when given the truth and their options. Currently the repair-versus-replacement market is controlled by the repair criteria and repair pricing of those with a financial interest contrary to the consumers. I would guess the TPAs, and those who do the same, have a repair versus replacement ratio of probably less than 1 percent. So what the TPAs do to the consumer is eliminate the three major benefits of repair: 1) cost savings, 2) preserving the factory seal and all its safety benefits and 3) preserving the higher-quality OEM windshield.

Applying the Deductible to a Windshield Replacement
Repairable damage is turned into replacements with the “size of a dollar bill” criteria, which is contrary to the repair industry standard. Who is going to repair a crack for the price of a chip? Not too many. Turning a repair into a replacement causes the deductible to apply, and therefore costs the consumers hundreds of dollars. Their high-quality OEM windshield is replaced with a lesser quality, inferior aftermarket glass (see Allstate v. Auto Glass Express Inc. complaint before the Amended Complaint describing aftermarket windshields as lesser quality product and inferior glass) without disclosing it and, of course, breaking of their factory seal. Who is being hurt the most by the windshield manufacturer TPAs? I would say the consumer.

Richard Campfield is the founder and president of Ultra Bond Inc. in Grand Junction, Colo.

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