Auto Glass Businesses Say Farmers' Insurance Now Requires Inspections Prior to Repair
March 21, 2013

by Jenna Reed,

Several auto glass businesses outside of Safelite Solutions' preferred network say Farmers' Insurance customers are now required to get inspections prior to repair. This is a trend that appears to be occurring more frequently in the auto glass industry. Farmers' utilizes Safelite Solutions for auto glass claim servicing. The latest insurance companies to require or test similar inspections are USAA, Elephant and Geico.

"The program started in January and now everyone has to be inspected," says Deborah Van Zaun of Onsight Auto Glass, which has three locations in Colorado. "One guy wanted three windshields repaired and we were finally able to do the work a week later."

She says inspections can take up to a week and customers don't like it. They are complaining right on the spot. Van Zaun says she tried talking with the claim servicing division of Safelite, but hasn't made any headway.

"They all tell me the insurance can inspect any time they want. Unfortunately, one inspection they did go to, they steered the customer to Safelite," she says. "I went into business on May 1, 2012 [after working for other auto glass businesses for years]. I cannot become preferred until May of this year. If I continued to be singled out, I will be out of business."

She said customers do not want to get the inspections done. They want a fix immediately given the current weather in Colorado.

Van Zaun indicates all her Farmers' customers now need inspections prior to repair. Geico was requiring the same thing, but has recently authorized repairs without inspections, she adds.

"I'm at a standstill," she says. "It's just really odd that everyone has to be inspected. A lot of people are waiting for chip repair."

Ina Machuca of Alternative View, also based in Denver, Colo., is facing a similar situation. She said a notice came to her auto glass business late last year informing her team of possible inspections prior to repair.

"The biggest one doing this is Farmers' Insurance," she says. "We got a notice in November or December that customers had to call in their repairs and December and January went just fine. Even up until February, things were going smoothly. But then all of the sudden we got a Farmers' customer who needed an inspection. It was at least 24 hours to get approval and get an adjuster to look at the auto glass. So we had to wait instead of being able to do it on the spot."

She explains this is a detriment to her business since the weather can be bad in Colorado, causing auto glass damage to get worse if not repaired immediately. Customers do not want to wait for repair.

One of the company's customers also happened to be a Farmers' Insurance agent.

"We went through the whole process with him," Machuca says. "Twenty-four hours later he got a call and they allowed him to use Alternative View [her company] for the repair. He referred a lot of Farmers' customers to us in the past. After asking, he was told he wouldn't have needed approval if he had gone to Safelite [a preferred provider]."

In another instance, she said a Farmers' Insurance agent hadn't heard the inspection news and Machuca informed the professional of the situation.

"SGC [Safelite Solutions] told the customer they could get her in immediately with Safelite rather than waiting on an inspection and they literally talked her into going to Safelite," she points out.

Machuca tried reaching out to both Farmers' and Safelite Solutions to learn more, but so far hasn't had much luck. She even asked if her team could take digital photos of the auto glass damage on the spot and email them in for repair approval? She says she never got approval for this.

From Safelite Group's perspective, other types of vehicle damage need to be inspected by an adjuster prior to be repaired, so it's just the natural evolution for auto glass to need inspection as well, says Melina Metzger public relations manager for the company.

"Since 2009, the implementation of pre-inspections for vehicle glass has been a result of the insurance industry's need to curb the rash of fraudulent and questionable claims," she says.

At press time, Farmers' Insurance had not yet responded to requests for comment.

Farmers' inspections have been an ongoing topic thread at the AGRR™ forum. To participate in this discussion, click here. If your customers are required to undergo inspections, please email with details.

This story is an original story by AGRR™ magazine/™. Subscribe to AGRR™ Magazine.
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