Jack Rozint, CarRepair.com/CIC Committee Chairman
A Collision Industry Conference (CIC) committee charged with looking at emerging technology in the industry argues that more guidelines and consensus is needed within the industry on when pre- and post-repair scans are necessary, and over fair compensation for that work.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily correct to say every repair needs to be scanned before or after, and it’s certainly not correct to say that only 1-in-10 cars needs to be scanned,” committee chairman Jack Rozint said at the CIC in Anaheim, Calif., in August. “It’s definitely somewhere in between there.”
“It’s not that this body is going to set those guidelines,” committee member Fred Iantorno said. “It’s just that there’s a need in the marketplace for that.”
With that in mind, the committee’s presentation focused on the questions related to scanning that it hopes to bring automakers, insurers, tool-makers and collision repairers together to address.
Rozint noted, for example, that in-house scanning by collision repair shops could have the least impact on cycle time and repair costs, yet shops report more difficulty in getting paid for in-house scans than those that are sublet to dealerships or outside vendors.
The costs related to scanning are real, Rozint noted. Buying OEM scan tools for just the Top 10 nameplates would cost a shop more than $100,000, he said, with $30,000 in annual software updates. These fees don’t include any of the training expenses that would be necessary. Aftermarket tools are available for about $5,000, he said, but generally don’t cover all vehicle functions.
The alternative to in-house scanning pose challenges as well. Outsourcing the work to dealerships is generally the most expensive option, both in terms of actual costs and cycle time delays, Rozint said. He also pointed out that dealer networks don’t have the capacity to handle all the collision-related scanning that will be needed.
Mobile technicians offer scanning although generally only in urban areas, Rozint said. Remote scanning, where off-site technicians scan vehicles hooked up at shops via the internet, may be “a great solution, but it’s not inexpensive,” Rozint said. And some calibrations of systems require the use of targets or other procedures that can’t be done remotely, he also pointed out.
More Information Needed
Rozint said the scan tool manufacturers have until now focused primarily on the mechanical repair industry; the Mechanical Division of the Automotive Service Association, for example, has developed a summary of OEM scan tool information ( http://scantoolresource.com/ ). This means not all the tools are designed to meet some of the needs of the collision repair industry, such as providing printable documentation of scans and findings.
Rozint said more parameters from automakers about which vehicles need to be scanned would be more helpful than blanket statements saying all vehicles need to be scanned. He cited a shop owner he talked to who has one shop that specializes in quick-turnaround of light hits. That shop takes in and delivers 15 cars a day, he said. If scanning adds half-an-hour to every job, the shop would need to add two full-time employees to do nothing but scanning.
“And guess what? They haven’t fixed anything they’ve found. The time to repair anything they’ve found isn’t even included,” Rozint said.
Clint Marlow of Allstate Insurance agreed that vehicle age and features have to play a role in what vehicles need to be scanned. He said the average age of vehicles his company insures is about nine years.
“It doesn’t pass that initial logical test [that all vehicles need to be scanned],” Marlow said. “I think we need to work together to understand more about when it needs to be done, in what cases and on what cars.”
Former CIC Chairman Roger Wright suggested that the committee make a similar presentation at a Property Casualty Insurers Association meeting this fall, given that a $200 scan charge would add 7 percent to the average claim of $2,800.
“For some of the top insurers, that could be up to $500,000 or $600,000 a day in additional severity,” Wright said. “The repairers can’t eat 7 percent, and an insurer would have to get rate increases across the board to do the same thing. I think we can work it out. We had the same thing back in the 1980s when we had to have 4-point and 3-dimensional measuring systems. We got through that.”
CIC Chairman Randy Stabler said the committee’s work is timely and important.
“I know that for every collision repairer and every insurer in this country, this particular issue is a burning problem that needs to get improved,” Stabler said.