State Farm's Bob Bischoff Talks about the New O&A

glassBYTEs spoke with Bob Bischoff, glass claim services manager for State Farm Insurance, about the Bloomington, Ill.-based company's new Offer and Acceptance Program.

GB: If a shop doesn't want to use the METRYX™ registry system, does that mean they are automatically removed from your O&A Program, even if they will meet the prices and all the other conditions of the program?

BB: Our intentions have always been to help promote efficiency and accuracy in customer service to our policyholders, so the original 1997 contract required that retailers have a fax machine in order to receive order confirmations. In 2005, our new O&A contract promotes the next generation of electronic communications, so we expect participants in the program to access and update their information on METRYX . METRYX will also enable retailers to identify their service area, so that we know where shops complete glass repair and/or replacements. However, as in the past, shops can still do work for policyholders as a non-participant in the O&A program. We believe the on-line program allows us to better understand who we're contracting with through the O&A program.

GB: You mention AGRSS registration in your press release announcing the O&A program. So you see the value of the industry establishing standards?

BB: We view the glass shop as the expert in performing glass repair or replacement. AGRSS is recognized by the industry and we believe it is important for glass work to be completed safely. In the new contract we are saying that the shop has to meet a level of standard for the work being done, but this does not necessarily mean that participants in the program have to be AGRSS registered.

GB: Is it correct that if a shop is located in a B,C, or D and the radius it registers with covers an A market then all of its work will be paid at an A rate, regardless of shop location or insured's address?

BB: We have three pricing zones (1, 2 and 3) within the State Farm O&A Program. If a shop completes glass repair or replacement in both zone 1 and 2, then its work will be compensated at the most competitive level, in this case, zone 1 pricing. If a shop identifies its service area in both zone 2 and 3, it would be compensated at level 2.

GB: Do you have any timeline for when your policyholders will have access to the shop information on METRYX?

BB: METRYX is a new tool and we will continue to enhance the tool so that it meets all of our needs. Customers have questions about glass shops like hours of operation or whether or not the shop agrees to perform work according to AGRSS standards. We want to provide this access to customers so that they are aware of the attributes of the glass shops in the program and can make informed decisions about their glass service provider. Keep in mind that no confidential information such as employee names or other confidential information will be shared with customers. Our intent is to give policyholders access to the qualifications and professional credentials of their chosen glass service provider. We believe that information available through the industry services registry will help us better serve our policyholders.

GB: How do you respond to the growing number of people who say they are billing directly, successfully bypassing the TPAs?

BB: I am aware that people have various opinions of how glass claims should be administered. In State Farm's case, our process is designed to support accurate and timely payments, and we will continue to do that. The best cycle time will be enjoyed by companies that invoice accurately and electronically. And under our new contract, we are also promoting electronic EFT payments, to help shops receive their payments as quickly as possible. There are no provisions for direct billing with State Farm, because the process we've designed is more efficient for all parties.

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