ILC ARTICLE

Chris Weeks: No more ‘them and us’


Repairers and insurers need to abandon the ‘them and us’ mentality and take a collaborative approach to resolving the issues within the sector.

That was the message delivered by Chris Weeks, NBRA executive director, as he addressed delegates at the inaugural ARC360 conference, held at the King Power Stadium, Leicester, on 27 November 2019.

His comments came after an NBRA survey to discover exactly where repairers think insurers are doing ‘well’ and ‘less well’. It found that while most believe insurers genuinely care about safety and customer experience, they are less satisfied in five other key areas: mobility costs; the contract review process; profitability; flexibility around SLAs (service level agreements); and complaint handling.

Mobility

With regards mobility, the survey found that one of the biggest concerns among bodyshops is that they are bearing the brunt of the costs while getting little back in the way of compensation from insurers.

‘They’re [bodyshops] not happy about having to provide a courtesy car for total loss,’ Chris said. ‘Some repairers out there have 50 courtesy cars now. The cost and logistics of this is a massive headache – bodyshops repair cars; they’re not a rental company.’

He also said the survey identified a need to re-evaluate the way contracts are negotiated – and when. He said that at the moment it is a reactionary process, and regular contract reviews could be a better way of working.

‘Rates and terms are only changed when there is a problem,’ said Chris.

Discounts

The survey also uncovered a substantial issue with discounts, which Chris described as being ‘out of control, meaning bodyshops sometimes lose money on jobs’, and a perceived lack of research from insurers into methodology, which is limiting their ability to set fair rates.

Perhaps the most damaging area of concern centred on profitability. Bodyshops are finding profits being squeezed by a number of factors such as reduced paint index, increased parts discounts, reduced sundries, and stagnant labour rates, while expenses are being driven up by pension contributions, the minimum wage, recruitment costs, cyber security, and investment demands from vehicle manufacturers.

Real costs

Chris revealed that the Insurer Advisory Board is examining the real costs inside a bodyshop and next year plans to work with insurers to establish the minimum annual inflation rate required by repairers ‘just to stand still.’

He concluded, ‘Our vision is the bodyshop industry, fully repaired. There are macro issues impacting us all, and there is no doubt insurers understand what’s going on. Many would like to change things; but it’s how we do it. There are challenges, but I don’t believe we can’t get over them.’

ARC360’s inaugural event was supported by corporate partners: 3M, ACIS, BMS, EMACS, Entegral, Enterprise, Nationwide Vehicle Recovery Assistance, S&G Response and CAPS; sponsors Indasa, Stanners, Symach, Thatcham Research, and The Green Parts Specialists; and strategic partners AutoRaise, NBRA, RepairTalks and Trend Tracker.

ARC360’s next event takes place on 18 March 2020 at the British Motor Museum – book your ticket now.

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