NWRA Annual Conference Answers Insurance Questions, Provides Automotive Glass Updates and Certification Training
The National Windshield Repair Association's (NWRA) annual conference wrapped up on Friday afternoon with an insurance panel of two State Farm representatives and a LYNX participant, along with
a presentation on the latest automotive trends by Solutia Inc.'s Mark Gold, and NWRA certification training by Delta Kits' Wade Schlichenmayer.
State Farm's national glass manager Bob Bischoff and manager of glass claims services Maura Crittendon, along with LYNX Services' Chris Umble, vice president of strategic initiatives, took center stage during the insurance panel. But Bischoff was quick to note that the panel really was not an inclusive "insurance panel."
"I'd like to see some other insurers here," he said. "I think they're missing an opportunity."
The panel focused both on how the insurers view the concept of "green"-a concept the NWRA has focused on its green initative-and how they view repair in general.
Umble noted that while "green" initiatives and environmental friendliness are important, efficiency is too-and the two go hand in hand.
"We've done an awful lot to automate the industry," Umble said. "Did we set out to do this because it was green or because it was efficient? Well, honestly, because it was efficient."
As for maximizing the use of the repair option, Umble said the company does much training with its customer service representatives to teach them to teach the consumer that repair is an environmentally sound practice.
Just like LYNX, State Farm also has worked at minimizing paper-in an efficient to be both efficient and green, Crittendon said.
"We've done a very good job of reducing paper through electronic options," she said. The company also encourages carpooling among its employees, and offers a shuttle service between its facilities in Bloomington, Ill., where it is headquartered.
Once the green part of the session was complete, the real work began: Bischoff attempted to dispel myths that the company "has gotten out of the repair business."
"We do pay for repairs," he said. "We do the exact same thing on the repair side that we do on the replacement side."
Previously, the company waived the deductible for a repair-in an effort to promote the practice-but now, unless state law mandates differently, the deductible still applies (and repairs are usually well under the deductible amount). However, Bischoff noted, it's still cheaper for the consumer to pay for a repair-than to pay the deductible toward a windshield replacement.
"It was never our intention to waive deductibles forever," Bischoff said.
When asked if State Farm is likely to ever require NWRA certification of shops, Bischoff stressed that consumer choice will always be important to the company-and so he believes this should be an industry effort, not one an insurance company should impose on the industry (if it's imposed at all).
"Policyholders choose what glass shops they want to go to," he said. "We look to your industry to really drive [certification requirements]."
He added, "If a customer says I want to go to Joe's Auto Glass, we're not going to tell him he can't."
Bischoff also reminded attendees that the company's number-one concern will always be the well-being of its policyholders, with whom it has contracts.
"When a question like this comes up, I have to think, 'how would the State Farm policyholder benefit?" he asked.
Bischoff also spoke to the popular topic of fuel surcharges-noting that the company has never broken down its payments (through its Offer and Acceptance program) before by part, service, etc., and paying specifically for fuel surcharges would go against this policy.
"We're not going to pay for that right now," he said. "The offer we make is fair and competitive."
Gold followed the presentation with an update on automotive trends in glass, including laminated sidelites, tinted glass, etc. Of the many updates he provided, one was about the new, special windshield designed by PPG for the Chrysler 300. The windshield is based on nanotechnology.
Of course, the popular question among attendees was: "what's that going do to our work?"
"My sense is that any glass with a high-performance coating will not repair the same way as another piece of glass," noted one attendee.
"I wouldn't lose any sleep over this," said Gold. "This is a very high-priced vehicle, and it's not likely you're going to see it."
After Gold's presentation, approximately 15 technicians participated in the hour-long certification course provided by Schlichenmayer. The exam followed, and on Saturday morning, several technicians also completed their practical assessments with administrators Delta Kits and AEGIS tools.
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