COVID-19 seems to become more taxing as time continues and more is learned about the virus. Solera recently held a webinar COVID-19 What’s Now and What’s Next, where a panel of the company’s experts addressed how the virus is impacting the industry on a global level.
“It’s an unprecedented situation where we have been forced to think outside of the box to look for better solutions; in the U.S. and we’ve seen most of the shops still open,” said Ramon Suarez, Solera regional managing director, as he began explaining what the company has been noticing. “The country’s auto glass claims volumes are down by 50% and auto glass replacement services are down 30%.”
According to Suarez, who oversees the U.S. and Latin America, small body shops might have the “bigger struggle,” as they are “experiencing a cash crunch” at a faster rate while taking longer amounts of time to “rebound volume.” But not every region is faring as well as the U.S., as the company’s European panel experts said the industry has taken a hit.
“Many shops are closed or, they’re about to close,” said David Shepherd, Audatex regional managing director. “It’s an unprecedented challenge… what will the new normal be?” he asked. Shepherd, who oversees the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, said volume was down 75% in the U.K. The company has also seen declines of 80-90% in other parts of Europe. “These are very challenging times for all of us,” Shepherd said.
Keeping the Industry Moving
“I think the key is to open contactless, touch-less digital communication. If you can’t come outside to look at the vehicle how are you going to see it? How are you going to instruct the repairer,” Shepherd asked. “So I think we’ll see an acceleration of digital.”
Suarez and Shepherd noted the benefits and rise of digital technology in the industry, as well as noting its potential. According to Atul Vohra, Solera regional managing director for Canada, India and Australia, the number one area where time is spent – training both internally and externally.
“In the more developed markets there’s a high level of familiarity however we’ve found that calibrations of specialty vehicles were week,” said Vohra. “We’ve spent almost 500 hours on just that area with a number of insurers and shops. When we go across to India for example, we’ve spent nearly 1,000 hours training.”
Payments and Collaboration
Arnaud Agostini, Solera regional managing director who oversees the rest of Europe and much of the rest of the world, said insurers in many countries are helping their network by “accelerating payments to aid repairers’ cash flow.”
“I think we’re seeing different levels of support throughout the industry,” said Suarez.
According to Agostini, in relation to recovering from COVID-19, the industry “will have to do more with less and some companies have already switched to artificial intelligence AI.”
The group agreed that there will be more reliance on technology provided there can be insured levels of accuracy. “We have capabilities to work digitally in insurance but every action is started by a human and many people prefer using technology for starting claims,” said Vohra.
According to the company there will be additional COVID-19 webinars to continue learning and discussing how the virus is impacting the industry.