GlassBYTEs.com’s series discussing the cost of calibration in different U.S. regions continues this week with the North Central area.
John and Beth Earl own Earl’s Auto Glass in Cozad, Neb. “I would agree with that,” Beth Earl says of the cost difference between what calibration costs Earl’s Auto and what insurance companies reimburse. “They do not want to do that [cost increase]. And I understand that. It does make the price go up [with calibration].”
Beth Earl says her shop began providing calibration services a year ago. She is organizing an event for local auto insurance agents to educate them on the importance of calibration after a windshield replacement. “None of the agents knew anything about it,” she says until Earl’s Auto began making them aware. At the event, an Earl’s auto technician will present the importance of calibration. “I think first they need to explain all the safety systems [to insurance agents],” Earl says, and educate about the safety that calibration provides. “It’s not just about adding money to the [job] ticket.”
Earl also hopes to hold an open house event at the shop at the end of March with a PowerPoint presentation on the importance of calibration. “So that everybody coming in can learn about [calibration],” she says.
“We’re seeing the same thing. We’re trying to educate as much as we can,” says Jon Laski, CEO of City Auto Glass in Minnesota. City Auto began providing calibration services seven years ago. “We’re really big on safety first.”
The company has six different tools available for technicians to perform calibrations. “We’ve made a very large investment,” Laski says. With six tools, City Auto technicians can calibrate most cars. “We try to fit the models themselves with the tools and the techs.”
However, auto insurance reimbursement has yet to fit in the world of calibration. Laski says the company provides pre-scans and post-scans per auto insurance requirements but struggles with some insurance companies regarding reimbursement. “Calibration is the biggest thing to our industry other than the glass itself,” he says.
The safety of customers is most important because if a vehicle is not calibrated correctly, (even if it’s off by a small amount that the human eye cannot see) it could create a dangerous situation for the customer. “We feel it too,” Laski says of the time spent working to be fairly reimbursed by auto insurances companies. “Our business has grown. Our calibrations have gone up too,” Laski says.
Laski says that on Thursday, City Auto took extra time to calibrate a problematic Nissan. Half the day was spent getting it calibrated correctly. “But it’s what has to be done. Safety first,” says Laski. City Auto is in the process of educating all sales team and staff members on calibration, but the company cannot change the fact that insurance companies dictate pricing. City Auto prefers to focus on safety, Laski says. Performing a calibration and possibly not getting reimbursed is more important than leaving a customer without calibration. “But you want to get paid for your services,” he says.
Lou and Rose Denning opened Denning Auto Glass in 2003 in Coldwater, Mich. “I’ve not had any trouble,” Rose Denning says. The shop began offering calibration services more than three years ago and does two to four each week. She says some auto insurance pay better than others, but Denning Auto always gets reimbursed for calibration services.
Denning says the only problem she has encountered was with a third-party administrator after Denning Auto successfully calibrated a customer’s vehicle. The vehicle needed to go to the dealership for an electrical issue. “But that didn’t have anything to do with my calibration,” Denning says. Two weeks later, the customer’s electrical issue was taken care of at the dealership, and the dealership performed another calibration. The third-party administrator paid the dealership for the calibration but would not pay Denning for the first calibration. “They didn’t have to do a recalibration,” Denning says of the dealership.
Denning, who handles auto insurance and other paperwork for the company, says she bills the service at recalibration “and it’s dynamic and it’s retail, not dealer.” “And I have to get prior approval [from the auto insurance],” she says. Some insurance companies require the paperwork at billing time, while others tell her to keep the paperwork on record. “But they require us to have it on file,” she says. The required paperwork includes pre-scan, post-scan, and that the calibration was successfully completed on a vehicle.