Insurers and collision repairers discuss how to improve the process of estimating and settling claims

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Bodybuilders and representatives of insurance companies this summer Collision Industry Conference (CIC) discussed the friction that exists between the two segments of the industry in terms of estimating damages and settling claims.

An assessor for Erie Insurance seemed to surprise some bodybuilders at the meeting when she suggested that workshops and insurers should keep customers informed of claims processes.

“So if you email the store, copy your customer for informational purposes,” Connie Hutton suggested during the CIC Estimating Committee group discussion. “And continue the thread. It keeps them informed and believe it or not when I was on the store side I got paid for almost everything I did because I kept [the customer] informed.”

Panelist Robert Wagner of Auto body shop Rob Wagner in Pittsburgh said he was “blown away” by Hutton’s suggestion.

“We need to invest in cloning technology,” Wagner said of Hutton, prompting laughs. “Because it’s literally something that has created friction between me and reviewers before. It’s, ‘What are you doing to talk to the client about this?’ But it’s their car.

The insurer’s estimate is not a repair plan

Hutton also pointed out that there is a distinct difference between an insurer estimate and a repair plan.

“When I send my estimates, my first line says: if you need any extra — photos, invoices, sublets, whatever — just send whatever is clear and you’ll get paid,” she said. “half of [shops] don’t even read that. It’s just a waste of time for you, not for me.

Hutton was asked what types of repair operations are the most difficult for her to approve.

“A sublease to a [dealer] it does not include any documentation when the invoice is $3,500,” Hutton said. “It just says, ‘Calibration complete.’ I need a little more than that. I’ll pay for it, but give me…

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