...Becker’s employer operates its own school. Even experienced technicians need continuing education as technology advances.
“You’re never done with school,” he said.
Becker said auto body repair technicians are typically expected to bring their own tools to the job, and the cost of tools can be a barrier to entry in the field. He said the time it takes to learn the job can also be daunting. Becker said it takes at least two years to learn the trade.
“The companies are battling over the people who are in this industry because there are not enough,” he said.
Industry experts confirm Becker’s observations.
Susanna Gotsch, an auto insurance analyst for CCC Information Services, said in a Jan. 11 report 50% of all vehicles manufactured from 2017 to 2020 have automatic emergency braking systems that require “challenging diagnostics.”
Gotsch said ADAS is contributing to a long-term trend of declining claims. She said in 2019, CCC saw a 0.2% decline in non-comprehensive claim counts, which includes both repairable and total losses. Last year those claims were down 24%, largely because of remote work assignments and social distancing measures related to COVID-19.
At the same time, ADAS systems are increasing the cost of repairable claims. Gotsch said before the pandemic, claims costs were increasing by about 3% to 4% annually. She said a combination of more severe accidents and more vehicle technology spurred claims costs to rise by 5% to 6% in 2020.
“The new technologies like ADAS, lightweight materials, additional costs for things like vehicle scan and calibration are largely behind the increase in repair costs,” she said in an email.
Higher used car costs are also driving claim costs. Gotsch said CCC expects total loss claims to jump from 5% to 6% for the full year 2020, although much larger increases were seen during...