I have refrained from comment on the friction between aftermarket and OEM for some time because I obviously have a bias toward the use of 100% OEM collision parts. In an attempt at full disclosure, our organization, Assured Performance Network, believes so much in the value of OEM, we are the company driving the rebate rewards program known as 100% Write. However, the decision to move in that direction, our logic, and philosophy is worth noting as others debate the recent issues surrounding the use of aftermarket parts and structural safety issues.
The foundation of our national network (Assured Performance Network) is our consumer advocacy. We are consumer focused, but try to always be insurance friendly whenever we can. The cornerstone of our consumer focus is our Collision Care marketing program. Logic follows that we cannot tell a consumer we are their advocate and we will give them a superior experience if our shops are pushing imitation parts on a new model vehicle. That would be the height of hypocrisy and counter-intuitive. To ensure the best repair, we can make an easy and clear decision to use 100% OEM collision repair parts – period! But this most recent controversy surrounding structural parts goes much further than our rule of thumb. This new issue surrounding structural parts is a matter of life or death!
Do you want to kill your customer? Are you willing to take the fall for putting on unsafe parts? The structural parts in question should never be compromised, NO MATTER WHAT DRP you are on. How can a shop owner risk some one’s life rolling over for an insurer concession to use potentially unsafe parts? How can any insurer demand that their DRP shops use potentially unsafe parts? When the issue is framed this way, the answer should be obvious. Ask any owner of a legitimate shop and any manager of any insurer DRP. I am confident none will ever say, “put potentially unsafe parts on the vehicle!” With that said, every insurance company DRP should have new policies just like Gieco announced that says they will only use “OEM Safe” parts for structural repair.
The larger problem and issue is there is no “rule book” on the use of parts. The industry has never taken a stand and demanded the all players abide by mutually agreeable terms. The industry has never even established a guideline to debate. An example might be the following:
“The default standard for collision repair parts should be “new OEM only” on any late-model vehicle. “Late-model” is defined as 3 – 5 years old or less. Utility vehicles and wholesale fleet vehicles may vary from this requirement. Any policy the consumer elects to purchase from an insurer that specifically requires imitation parts is also exempt from this standard as a matter of consumer choice.
Further, the default standard for all structural repair parts is “OEM Safe.” Therefore, only structural repair part that have been tested and certified according to same standards as OEM should ever be used in any repair as a matter of safety.”
Without definitions that set the ground rules and parameters, everyone is in a free-for-all and the losers are the consumer and the body shop that is trying to offer a quality repair. The insurers that don’t want to cut corners on their policyholders are also losers because they are competing with corner and cost cutting insurers that demand and support inferior repair methods and parts. These “bottom-feeders” should be identified as such and not allowed to become the default standard. They should be identified as “non-compliant” or non-standard and their methods should not become the pricing model everyone is forced to use.
We should just say NO! No, I don’t want to kill my customer by cutting a corner on my insurance or my repair methodology! As for correcting the mistakes of the past, I strongly suggest that a national recall should be in effect for every structural part used that was not OEM or not tested and certified. There should be no debate about the urgent need to correct this life-threatening situation. I hope you agree.