From the Desk of Mike Anderson: Collision Repair Industry Has a New Voice on OEM Safety Inspections
Written by Mike Anderson, Autobody News
Published May 4, 2021
One of the issues I have written and spoken about most passionately recently---including being quoted in an article on the front page of Autobody News in April---is my belief the post-collision safety inspections called for by most automakers are the single biggest friction point in the collision repair industry right now.
We see shops looking to do the right thing, but getting pushback from third-party payers.
This is why I want to give a shout-out to the team at I-CAR. They recently held a virtual summit in regards to automaker safety inspections as the start of some dialogue about what some OEMs require, when those inspections are needed, what outcomes they produce and what they can prevent.
I-CAR invited participants from all industry stakeholders---OEMs, insurers and collision repairers---and about 150 people participated. This is important because it’s only when we start talking about these issues that we can work toward resolution while ensuring the vehicle owner gets a complete and safe repair.
It would have been unrealistic to go into that virtual summit expecting a solution would come out of just one meeting. But I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen happening since that time.
I had one specific insurer, for example, ask me to put them in touch with some of the OEMs to have a direct dialogue to better understand this issue. It was an insurer seeking to do the right thing. So I want to give a shout-out to that insurer---even though I can’t identify them here---and to the OEMs that agreed to speak with that company.
I want to give a shout-out to FCA, now part of Stellantis, for publishing an updated statement this spring to provide more clarity in regard to steering columns after a collision. The automaker also held a webinar for its certified collision repair shops to give those collision professionals a chance to hear from the automaker’s technical experts and get more information about safety inspections.
Thank you to the team at FCA. They heard the voice of the industry, and said, “Let’s engage in some dialogue on this.”
There’s another automaker that, depending on when you are reading this, has announced or will soon, a new matrix and parameters for the safety inspections on its vehicles, to narrow down which are required under which circumstances.
But there’s another thing that resulted from that I-CAR summit, and this is where I’m issuing a call to action to you. I-CAR wants to continue to move this issue forward with all stakeholders, but needs more data to do so. So I-CAR has posted a brief form** shops can use to submit information on the safety inspections they perform, what triggered the inspections, and what was found.
You find that form here.
I strongly encourage you to take action and regularly submit information to I-CAR. When the OEM procedures for a vehicle you are repairing call for a seat belt inspection, or call for R&I for inspection of an airbag sensor or module, or require you to measure the steering column or to R&I the dash to check the support brace, submit those examples to I-CAR. Whether those inspections reveal damage or not, submit that to I-CAR.
Those of you who know me know I always seem to have a new saying or expression I recite regularly. My current one is this: There are people in life who WATCH stuff happen, and there are people in life who MAKE stuff happen. I’m choosing to be someone who makes stuff happen.
And that’s what I want to invite you to do. Don’t sit on the sidelines and complain about these issues. Let your voice be heard. My biggest concern is that I-CAR, in an effort to move this issue forward, sets up this data collection, but nobody submits any examples. They’re going to say: This isn’t an issue.
But it is an issue, an important issue. But if we don’t submit anything to I-CAR so they can see it is, then shame on us. We have an avenue to have a voice, a way to have our voice heard.
So I strongly encourage you to use it. This is the only way to further the dialogue to find a solution that works for everyone. As I also often say: Don’t delay; do it today.