Volume 15, Issue 1 - January/February 2013

Walking the Walk
Insurance Providers Say They Want Quality.
But Do They Support Industry Standards?
by Kerry Wanstrath

I think by now industry professionals are starting to get the picture that the National Windshield Repair Association (NWRA) has as its highest goal supporting and actively promoting the highest standard of quality for windshield repair. We offer the repair industry’s only standard—the Repair of Laminated Automotive Glass Standard (ROLAGS™), a recognized training certification and testing program, and now a continuing education program.

With the goal of further improving the industry, the NWRA has for some time been collecting data on repairs, with a focus on the quality of the repairs being performed. This includes information such as the repair date, time, the insurance provider, consumer information and, yes, who actually did the repairs. Photos of the repairs can be included with this information.

This information can do several things but there are two very important points to consider. Collecting this data can highlight the fine work a company or technician is doing and verify that the work is being performed to the industry’s highest standards. Alternatively, it can show a pattern of poor work or, in some cases, work that looks like little or nothing was done to improve the appearance of the break.

At the NWRA, we believe it is important for the consumer to be informed about the difference between a good and bad repair. As a result, we are creating a spot on the NWRA website (www.nwrassn.org) to inform the consumer as to what to look for in a repair so that they can make smart choices.

However, this begs a question. Shouldn’t the insurance provider be concerned as to whom they are directing their customers for a repair? You would think that it would matter but, based upon the data and photos I’ve seen, it doesn’t appear to matter yet. For this to matter to insurance providers, they must be made aware of the difference between a repair done to an industry standard and poorly performed repairs. Everyone can help in this effort by collecting information and pictures of poor repairs and submitting them to the NWRA via our website in order to centralize this data and use it to better the industry. We all have seen someone else’s work on a windshield that we are either repairing or replacing, so next time you see this why not record it and submit it to the NWRA?

Simple Tools for Improvement
If a network or an insurance company wants to ensure that its customers are getting quality repairs, they need to stop listening to TV commercials. I doubt many, if any, insurance executives have ever challenged their network partner about their quality. Consider what would happen if their executives stopped and asked themselves these questions: “Is our partner motivated to do quality repairs?” “Is there a penalty if they produce poor repairs?” Or: “Are they rewarded by getting two jobs out of one, a repair first and then, after that fails, a replacement?” The bottom line is that the consumer pays in the form of higher premiums.

Technology exists that can stop many of these problems; smart phones have the ability to stop most of the quality issues that a select few companies seem bent on perpetuating. As I mentioned in the September/October 2012 issue (see page 51), all of the necessary information—a before-and-after photo and any vehicle and consumer information—can easily be captured and submitted to a third-party administrator (TPA) to record and document. Why is this not being done? I don’t know the answer, but what I do know is that for quality to matter it has to start at the insurance level.

Certainly we can make our companies better to benefit the consumer, but there is a cost for doing all that we have discussed—and the reward could be questioned. The company doing better work is paying out of pocket by taking the added time and materials to produce better repairs and replacement, without being compensated for the added costs. Insurance companies need to step up. If the insurance industry does not help promote the efforts of organizations that promote quality and safety, one must question where their interests lie.

The Uphill Path to Higher Quality
There is always talk about some company defrauding an insurance provider either by doing bad repairs or no repair at all, yet where is the insurance industry in promoting and rewarding higher standards?

We have a “classic chicken and egg” scenario. Which comes first: the higher quality and standards, or the insurance industry support of quality?

Associations such as the NWRA only improve the service the consumer receives, so what is it that prevents the insurance industry from supporting these efforts by rewarding the industry professionals who perform to a higher standard? Can it truly be about the money they save by partnering with a low-cost provider?

If the insurance industry continues to ignore the efforts of higher quality, education and testing, I would hope that they would someday decide to remove themselves from the equation all together. I know many have expressed opposition to that thought, but isn’t competing on a level playing field, with access to the entire market, better than competing on an uphill field that is getting steeper and smaller every year?

Kerry Wanstrath serves on the board of directors of the National Windshield Repair Association and is president of Glass Technology Inc. of Durango, Colo.

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