From steering to the increasing totals, CIC sets agenda

From steering to the increasing totals, CIC sets agenda

The Collision Industry Conference (CIC) grappled with key issues facing collision repairers, including insurer steering and the ever-increasing number of third party claims administrators, when participants gathered in San Diego for CIC's annual January planning meeting.

About 125 people from around the country, representing shops, insurers and industry vendors, enjoyed the San Diego weather as they worked on CIC committee assignments for the coming year.

Overseeing his first CIC meeting since being named CIC Chairman last December, Roger Wright spent several hours of the 2-day meeting gathering input from meeting attendees on what CIC had accomplished and done well in the past year or two, and what aspects of the meetings and committee work could be improved upon for the future.

The CIC Insurance Committee was assigned several topics, some rather broad, including addressing "inefficiencies in shop-insurer relationships." The committee will also look into the increasing number of total loss vehicles, and examine issues surrounding two-tiered insurance policies; 34 states, for example, allow insurers to offer a choice of a higher-priced policy that ensures the vehicle will be repaired with only OEM parts.

A new "Information Technology Committee" was asked to look at issues arising from the increasing number of third-party claims processors or administrators serving as the communication link between shops and insurers.

"[The way we're going,] where we're going to end up is with five icons on the left hand side of our computer screen, and every insurance company using one of these different third-party administrators," Wright said.

"Heck, the insurers might now let you use any one of the estimating systems," complained Wrgith, "but you still have five different [claims] processes [from the third-party administrators], so it really hasn't gotten any better. There's a lot of duplicate entry. These systems don't interface with our management systems; you have to re-key or cut and paste a lot of the information from one to the other. It's a labor intensive process."

Ron Guilliams, the new director of quality assurance for Fix Auto, said CIC's "Write It Right Committee" should continue to look at state regulations impacting shops, in particular the requirements of the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR). The BAR, for example, now considers it fraudulent for a shop to charge for a parts price increase if the consumer and insurer weren't notified of the increase in advance.

Because so many regulations that get their start in California soon "migrate" to other states, CIC participants agreed that CIC should help the California Autobody Association in its attempt to address these issues early on.

When it's unclear how CIC can address certain issues, such as those in California, they are often assigned to the "Industry Discussions Committee." The committee uses its time at CIC meetings for in-depth presentations or panel discussions of the topic. This year, that committee will look at insurer ownership of shops and consumer disclosure and consent issues.

Industry activist Chuck Sulkala, owner of Acme Paint & Body in Jamaica Plains, Mass., asked that the CIC Fraud Awareness Committee review the implications of "direction of work" or "steering of consumers to particular shops," an ongoing problem that Sulkala called a "critical issue facing the industry."

The Legislative Committee was asked to research licensing or bonding of collision repair shops, and the OEM Committee will focus on the "repairability" of vehicles based on their design, including the challenges shops may encounter working with the latest materials and technologies in vehicle manufacturing.

"Human resource" issues will be added to CIC's existing "Education Committee," which this year will examine the availability and depth of training for all positions at a collision repair shop, and will offer presentations on liability issues for employers.

CIC's long-standing "Estimating Committee" will continue its work addressing the accuracy and completeness of the estimating databases and systems, the timeliness of repair information, and awareness of the importance of "non-included operations."

The CIC "Parts and Airbags Committee" was assigned the topics of non-OEM parts certification, CSI (customer satisfaction indexing) by parts vendors, and salvage airbags and airbag covers.

In the weeks following the January CIC planning meeting, co-chairs will be chosen for each committee. The first reports are scheduled for the next CIC meeting, April 3-4, in Phoenix. The meeting is open to all industry participants and is free to CIC Gold Pin Sponsors. The attendance fee for non-Gold Pin sponsors is $40. Hotel and other information about the meeting is available at the CIC website ( or by calling CIC's administration office, (509) 547-3810.

John Yoswick

John Yoswick is a freelance writer and Autobody News columnist who has been covering the collision industry since 1988, and the editor of the CRASH Network... Read More

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