Going with Direct Billing? Here are a Few Tips from Auto Glass Shop Owners

If you’re looking to go the direct billing route, here are a few more tips and recommendations that could work for you. For more information on the topic, look to the January/February issue of AGRR magazine.

1. There’s an App for That

While software designed for auto glass billing doesn’t offer the option of electronically billing insurance companies direct (and software makers say that’s not likely to become an option), those same programs do allow for printing of invoices, which can then be manually mailed or faxed. In the process, we’re told, they also provide a checks and balances system that helps to ensure your company includes all of the information required by individual insurers for billing.

“There are so many checkpoints,” says John Wharton, president of Digital Business Controls, the maker of Chameleonware. “If you don’t have every single ‘t’ crossed and ‘i’ dotted, your invoices will get rejected again and again.”

2. Outsourcing

In much the same way that insurance companies outsource their claims, auto glass shops can outsource their efforts to direct bill. In 2015, Olney, Ill.-based Auto Glass Claims Team Inc. (ACT) introduced Clear Vision Billing Solutions, a service that’s offered to auto glass shops for handing their billing processes. Unlike TPAs, the ACT’s president, Jim Pottorff, says his company’s service does not require shops to become network providers, nor does it require them to accept insurance company’s network pricing. “By not being tied to a network participation agreement with its discounted pricing, our clients are free to dictate what amount they would like us to charge a given carrier,” he says. When it comes to short pays, “We will pursue the short pay amount when a carrier’s policy allows the insured to invoke appraisal,” he adds. “But our clients are free to pursue the short pay amount in small claims court if they like.”

3. Inside Tip: Leveraging Customers

While most of the shop owners interviewed believe that it’s risky to place your customers in direct contact with their insurers, others say they leverage their customer’s rapport. By having their customers pay them up front, then file for reimbursement, some say a glass shop’s invoice is far less likely to be rejected. Meanwhile, AGRR interviewed shop owners and experts who say they know of shops who rely on a rebate-based system, in which they accept payment from their customers, then hand them an instant rebate, along with a self-addressed envelope to be used for seeking reimbursement. The downside of that system is that you’ll have to trust your customers to hand over that reimbursement when they receive the check.

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