John Yoswick

John YoswickJohn Yoswick is a freelance automotive writer based in Portland, Oregon, who has been writing about the collision industry since 1988. He is the editor of the weekly CRASH Network (for a free 4-week trial subscription, visit www.CrashNetwork.com).

He can be contacted at john@crashnetwork.com 

Tuesday, 05 October 2021 13:52

Changes Ahead for Collision Repair Shops Based on AI, New Automotive Finishes

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Paint company representatives say auto body shops will increasingly need to take potential refinish issues into account early in the repair planning process. Paint company representatives say auto body shops will increasingly need to take potential refinish issues into account early in the repair planning process.


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The impact for collision repairers of artificial intelligence (AI) and changes in automotive finishes were among the topics discussed by presenters at the Collision Industry Electronic Commerce Association (CIECA) conference held in September in Nashville.

Jimmy Spears, head of automotive for Tractable, said the company’s AI (machine-learning) system has become adept at quickly determining from photos if a vehicle is a total loss.


“One of things that AI does a wonderful job on is triage,” Spears said. “We’re in the high 90s of calling balls and strikes: Is this car repairable or is this car not repairable.”


For insurers, he said, the system can produce 40% of initial estimates “without any further line items” needing to be added. An equal percentage require review of one or two line items---with the estimate annotated as to what an appraiser needs to review---while the balance will require being handled “old school: have it towed, take the car apart and go classic blueprinting.”


About a year ago, Tractable announced it was working with an insurer in Spain to offer “straight-through processing” of some claims, such as single-car accidents with no injuries; the customer uploads images, the Tractable system prepares an appraisal and “between eight and 15 minutes later,” the claim is paid and “as far as the consumer knows, is closed.”


Spears compared it to ordering and paying for a drink at Starbucks via an app and just picking it up, versus going in to order and pay and then waiting for the coffee drink to be made.


“I’d really like to see the U.S. start to do more of that” type of auto claims processing, Spears said.


He acknowledged while AI may be reducing upfront time for insurers to produce initial estimates, it isn’t resulting in more accurate estimates.


“Supplement rates are still the same. That doesn’t change,” Spears said when asked about even those single-car accident claims. “That’s probably one of the things to think about: just because you have AI, it doesn’t mean that you’ve managed to make a supplement go away. If there’s something behind that [bumper] cover that’s damaged, it’s going to be damaged. But it’s better not to write [for that] and assume it. But no, supplement percentages aren’t any lower.”


During another panel discussion at the CIECA conference, paint company representatives laughed when asked if the industry is close to AI helping with refinish color matching.


“It’s a fair question,” said Dan Benton, global product director of color marketing at Axalta Coating Systems. “We’re chuckling because...

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