Insurer Inspections Costing One Auto Glass Repair Company More than $35 K

Less than a year after its inception, Houston-based Safe Tech Auto Glass implemented a proprietary software system that streamlined every aspect of the business, allowing its technicians to service more vehicles in a day. The company’s six locations, all in Texas, complete 50 to 100 repairs a day, according to Austin Kilber, the company’s operations manager. However, due to the high volume of repairs the company is able to output, he says they’ve caught the attention of insurers Geico and Progressive, which has had a negative impact on the business.

“It started off with just a few inspections here and there,” says Kilber. “It’s very inconvenient for the customer. [The insurance company] would send out one of its claims adjusters; they’d call the customer and say, ‘Hey, they’re not a preferred shop,’ and then try to push them over to Safelite. Basically, these Geico and Progressive reps would tell the customer that they needed to go to Safelite if they didn’t want to go through the inspection process.”

Kilber says these inspections are strangling the company, and now, nearly 100 percent of the jobs they’ve been getting are flagged by these two insurers, even after becoming a preferred shop.

“These investigations have affected our approval ratings,” Kilber explains. “We feel picked on because we found a way to automate everything, do things faster and be more efficient with our time. Since we’ve become a preferred shop, we’ve been black-balled by these insurance companies. It’s very evident—customers can tell you that, at some point, these insurers are steering them to Safelite. It’s just been a big problem for us.”

In August, Kilber says out of the 2,012 repairs performed for Geico or Progressive, only one failed, which he says is due to the amount of time it took the company to come out and complete the inspection.

“ … We have had only one repair not pass inspection due to the damage growing larger in the seven days it took for Geico to come out and perform the inspection. This inspection process is a huge strain on my company and the company’s bank account due to a large number of customers not returning for repair after inspection or not completing the inspection at all,” he explains. “Customers are sometimes very annoyed and angry that they have to go through an inspection process, mostly because they’ve had chips repaired in the past and didn’t have to jump through hoops to get the work completed.”

Only 37 percent of Geico insureds came back to the company for the repair following the inspection, Kilber says, costing them $36,779 in lost revenue in a one-year span just from those not returning.

“Between August 1, 2016 and August 9, 2017, my company completed 1,776 Geico invoices for repair, and 973 were flagged for inspection,” he says. “That means that almost 55 percent of our invoices went to inspection. Out of those 973 inspections, only 361 customers returned for the repair.

“We’re a by-the-books company; we’re not pushing anything through,” Kilber says. “All of our techs are NWRA certified, we’ve won multiple awards and we’re BBB certified. We’re a start-up business, and we need revenue coming in.”

Safe Tech Auto Glass used to have 12 locations, but, due to these inspections, has dwindled down to six. Kilber says the company can’t afford to grow, let alone retain quality technicians since their pay is based off of commission.

“If we have a technician that has a repair that actually goes through, it’s so hard to believe,” he explains. “We have six technicians, but it’s difficult for us to keep them because they’re on a commission structure, and 30 percent of your production goes to inspection. It’s affected us in more ways than just business. It’s affecting people’s livelihood and their ability to put food on the table.”

Kilber says the company has reached out to the insurers, but have yet to be given an explanation for the inspections. However, he says Geico has forgone physical inspections altogether and now calls the customer for an over-the-phone inspection.

“I don’t understand why the phone inspection couldn’t be completed when we first get them on the phone to complete the claim,” he says.

This article is from glassBYTEs™, the free e-newsletter that covers the latest auto glass industry news. Click HERE to sign up—there is no charge. Interested in a deeper dive? Free subscriptions to Auto Glass Repair and Replacement (AGRR) magazine in print or digital format are available. Subscribe at no charge HERE.

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7 Responses to Insurer Inspections Costing One Auto Glass Repair Company More than $35 K

  1. I don’t know about Texas, but I have seen in Arizona MANY scammed repairs, where I went to put a windshield in a vehicle and the insurance company told me there was a repair 1 week ago, and they would get the money back from the other company. This is not a 1 in a million thing it happens all the time when people prey on unsuspecting people. You would clearly see there was no repair and the customers had no idea..

    • Kevin says:

      Yeah and you know the biggest one? Safelite. Only a truly brain-dead person would defend Safelite’s process.

      The point is that this has nothing to do with scamming the insurance company and everything to do with Safelite dictating the rules of the industry. Period.

  2. Mark1 says:

    Quote: “I don’t understand why the phone inspection couldn’t be completed when we first get them on the phone to complete the claim,” he says.

    Possibly because you’re in the call with the customer, and would witness, document, and be better able to deal with any steering attempts? After all, it’s worked for decades, why not now?

    Seems logical; why else, as you asked?


    • Annie says:

      Nope they put the shop on hold and call the customer on their own phone to complete the claim to avoid the shop being involved so that’s not it

  3. Annie says:

    This new Inspection process is making our customers mad. This is a huge impact on the entire auto glass industry. A complete outrage if you ask me. Customer calls in, loyal customer, in need of a new repair. We are now asking that the claim be completed over the phone instead of in person to avoid making 2 or more trips. This customer was unable to do a 3 way call at that very moment so we sent him a text with the 800 # for their claims department and our shop info. So that they can make the call a little later. Next day we check in with this man to see if we can take care of the windshield. He advised us that he was told by the glass claims department that safelite can fix his windshield with out an inspection however if he chooses this shop he will need to go through the inspection process. WHAT?? As a glass shop we spend our Money, Time, Blood, Sweat, Tears, Everything we have goes toward trying to build our customer base. We maintain relationships with them. If they have a problem we come right back to their driveway and they love that. Our customers like us. They know we do good work and they call us back every time. Watching these people get pushed away from our shop by these huge corporations is horrifying. All this effort to build a future, to help these people, being there for them when they ask, on call all hours mobile service. A large amount of our customers are irritated. Made to wait when the wait is unnecessary. Some are going along with it because we told them it is just the new thing. Some have shared emotional outbursts with us. Some have asked their insurer right in front of us on recorded calls, “what if my windshield cracks before the inspection guy gets here?” they are told right in front of us that if that happens they will need to replace the windshield and pay their deductible, and if they do not want to wait they will have to pay out of pocket. My favorite is when we come to the customers house not knowing who the insurance company is, find out it is one of these companies, call it in, and then get told we have to leave and come back in a day or two because they need an inspection. You should see the looks we get when that happens. The customer feels embarrassed and they apologize to us for taking our time to come back again. Doubling our gas, miles and drive time. As if this is their fault. Sometimes the customer wants 2 cars done and the inspector will do the first inspection and conveniently not do the second car, then hold thing up for another day to do the 2nd inspection before they will allow us to service these vehicles. I have to agree with these guys it feels personal. Like we are being pushed out by the bigger guy without a care about what we go through to bring in new business to our shop every single day all day. How is that even legal? Who else is getting pushed around? Is there anything we can do about it? Why are they making us look like the bad guys? Why are paying customers being punished for loyalty or shop of choice? Who benefits the most from this? Why is their an option to do an instant photo inspection on the insurers App for claims, but it does not apply to windshield repair? Wouldn’t that fix a few things and save the insurer the money they are spending on these inspection service guys? Its definitely not a question who is paying the price? Small business owners, entrepreneurs, and tax paying citizens that’s who. Normal people just like you and me. It’s shameful to watch this monopoly. Even more so living in it! Did not see this coming when we decided to try and live the american dream. Thousand of dollars in losses, Untold amount of customers steered away, and a knife in our back for being good at what we do. Back to the main question. What can we do about it?

  4. Drew says:

    Is it legal or is there grounds to sue

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