Several panelists led a workshop during Auto Glass Week™ that took attendees through practical steps that companies have had success with such as arbitration, appraisals and anti-steering strategies.
“We want to help glass companies through issues they deal with and make companies more profitable,” said Rick Rosar of Rapid Glass, who moderated the panel.
“The single most important document you can get your hands on is the insurance policy,” said Chuck Lloyd, a trial attorney in Minnesota. “It is in almost every respect the alpha and the omega in what insurance companies have to pay. Moses didn’t have a third tablet for what auto glass companies can be reimbursed for when he came down from the mountain. If insurance says we will pay $1 to replace windshield … even if it costs you more … you’ll only get reimbursed a buck.
He called arbitration an interesting option. Lloyd likened it to a private court.
“If a windshield costs more than $10,000 then we get out of arbitration in Minnesota. Otherwise … it’s in arbitration. It usually takes four months and we have one arbitrator,” he said.
“It does not hurt you to have proper assignment of benefits … if you ever decide to use it,” Rosar pointed out.
Don Munro of Auto Glass Appraisal Services added, “The assignment of benefits is the most important thing you can ask for from your customer.
“Almost every insurance policy has an appraisal clause,” he said. “… Appraisal only looks at the amount of the loss. It’s simply an alternative to litigation or arbitration. You don’t need an attorney to go through it.”
Each party appoints an arbitrator and then the two arbitrators appoint an umpire, he explained. Two of the three need to agree on an appraisal. The insurer will send a check if the parties agree.
“Typically, these are resolved in one to two months. It’s relatively expedient,” Munro said.
Mario Ercolini of Wholesale Glass Distributors discussed how the independent automotive glass industry in his state helped pass a state bill. He headed up that legislative push.
“All of the sudden people who didn’t even talk to each other started talking to each other,” he said. “At the end of six months, we had a pretty good team going. When the bill went to committee, 170 auto glass people showed up to the meeting (in state congress). We knew the bill wouldn’t go through, but we were trying to force the issue.
“They said we’ll all have to rehear it again next week,” he said. “We went back next week with 120 people. One of the senators we had met with pointed out that the glass company representatives had already given up one day the prior week … don’t make them give up another day. Either tell them yes or no. It passed.”
The company owners figured the bill would die on the floor.
“We’re were going to pass a bill but it wasn’t the original. Third-party administrators (TPAs) now have to ask customers “Do you have a shop of preference?” If they say yes … then everything stops.”
The supporters-for the bill eventually formed the South Carolina Glass Association. The group works to protect consumers from unscrupulous installers and to continue to support automotive glass companies’ rights.
Stay tuned to glassBYTEs.com for more coverage from Auto Glass Week™.