Recalibration Reimbursement a Murky Issue

As the issue of recalibration of automotive glass following replacement moves to the forefront of the automotive glass industry, so does one central question: who pays for it?

nordglass4The answer affects all the participants in the replacement transaction: the consumer, the insurance company and the automotive glass shop. But the latter could be seen as being the most at risk when it comes to compensation. And at least one insurance carrier has refused to reimburse a shop for work completed on recent glass work.

Peter Brown of Tiny & Sons Auto Glass in Pembroke, Mass., has reported to that the insurance company Arbella denied payment of one of his customer’s recalibration, claiming that work was part of the customer’s deductible and not the comprehensive policy. This means Brown will not get reimbursed for work completed on behalf of the customer.

The move by Arbella Insurance, a company based in the Northeast United States, took Brown by surprise, he said.

“We do a lot of work on high-end cars, like Volvos, Range Rovers Mercedes, which require recalibration after repair or replacement,” he said. His normal procedure, he said, is to first get the pertinent information from the customer, then “qualify the job and determine if a recalibration is required.” If so, he contacts the insurance carrier and gets a pre-approval for the work, then contacts the dealer regarding the recalibration portion. The car is then taken to the dealership, where the glass work is completed, then the recalibration conducted. Brown then files for reimbursement with the insurance carrier.

However, when an insurance carrier rules the recalibration falls under the customer’s deductible and decides to not pay, it “ … sets up a situation where I’ll have to turn away work if the customer decides not to do the recalibration or thinks they’re not responsible for it,” Brown said. In the cases where the customer decides to forego the recalibration, Brown said he has to decline to do the glass work.

Arbella’s denial seems, at this point, to be the exception, rather than the rule. Most carriers don’t know what positions they have or will take when it comes to payments for recalibration, said Maureen Confalone, chief financial officer for JN Phillips Auto Glass.

“To date, every carrier I’ve talked to said it was part of the cost of the repair to return the vehicle to pre-damaged state,” she said. “If it required a front-end alignment as a result of damage, then needed recalibration, you have to do what you need to do to get it back to what it was before the damage.”

However, insurance carriers have put off establishing a recalibration policy, waiting to see what others will do, to give them the flexibility to change if they need to or want to, she said.

“There are a lot of ‘what-ifs’ out there,” Confalone said. “There’s not an actual policy – it’s one at a time as they come.”

There was no response to our request for comment by Arbella.

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