Much of the agenda at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) held in Palm Springs, Calif., in January was devoted to CIC’s biennial planning session, where participants discuss what topics CIC committees will take on in the coming year or two. But the quarterly meeting also included a number of informational sessions for attendees.
I-CAR CEO John VanAlstyne, for example, offered an update on not only his organization’s training activities, but also its efforts to improve the availability and accessibility of OEM technical information for collision repairers. He said that I-CAR had budgeted over $1 million on that ongoing project over two years, and that the website portal I-CAR is developing to improve access to OEM technical information is being beta-tested and will launch soon.
He said I-CAR also has worked to make its training more affordable. For the fourth year in a row, he said, there would be no price increase for training for Gold Class businesses, and pricing has been reduced for I-CAR newly-renamed “Welding Testing and Certification.” The welding program discounts increase based on the number of students a company is registering, part of I-CAR’s effort to get training to more technicians, VanAlstyne said.
He said I-CAR soon will be rolling out aluminum welding and other training courses specific to Ford’s 2015 F-150 pick-up, which hits showrooms late this year.
About half of the I-CAR training that students choose to take is now online, up from just 3 percent three years ago, VanAlstyne said. That and the expanded focus on being a source of technical information beyond training is part of I-CAR’s shift in scope.
“We’re working to make information on-demand and accessible, so people get the training and information they need when they need it,” he said.
Also during the meeting, CIC committees offered a preview of some of what they hope to address at upcoming meetings. Steve Regan, chairman of the Governmental Committee, said his committee will have a presentation on the topic of “most-favored nation” clauses at the next CIC, being held April 9–10 in Portland, OR. The clauses are often found in insurer direct repair program agreements, requiring participating shops to give the insurer the best pricing offered to any other. Several states have now banned the clauses in health insurance contracts, and the Automotive Service Association has urged the U.S. Department of Justice to review most-favored nation clauses in DRP contracts.
Regan said his committee is also planning a presentation for later this year on legal and liability issues related to autonomous (or “self-driving”) cars.
Gene Lopez, chairman of CIC’s Education and Training Committee, said his committee is working on presentations related to coaching and developing mentoring and peer-to-peer training relationships within an organization.
CIC Chairman George Avery led a discussion about the future of CIC’s Data Privacy issue, which may be renamed to incorporate a broader scope of “information technology” issues. There appeared to be general consensus the committee is still needed. Several attendees noted the recent controversy when a Ford marketing executive said the automaker tracks customers through vehicle GPS and other technology—only to later retract the statement. A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that automakers and navigation system providers gather a lot of data on where drivers have been, and there are no standards for how long the data is retained nor a way for drivers to ask that their data be destroyed. Avery said he would be seeking a new chairman for the CIC committee that works on data privacy issues.
Chris Northup of the CIC Parts and Materials Committee cited a laundry list of topics still to be addressed by subcommittees, including: aftermarket parts certification standards, parts inventory/availability issues, recycled parts clean-up times, multiple recycled parts standards, impact of OEM price-matching policies, etc.
Randy Hanson of Allstate this year becomes chairman of the CIC Insurer-Repairer Relations Committee. Outgoing chairman Rick Tuuri said the committee will continue to “identify areas for insurers and repairers to work together for efficiencies.” CIC attendee Rick Sherwood suggested that the committee go back to some of the recommendations the committee developed – such as best practices related to digital images, which was finalized in 2010 – to find out if insurers are aware of them and whether or not they’ve adopted them.
“So rather than just bring a recommendation, which I understand is CIC’s mission, get some feedback that might assist in refining these things as we go forward so they are more actionable at the end of the day,” Sherwood suggested.