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Adjuster: Photo estimating apps ‘probably some of the worst things’ invented

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Business Practices | Insurance | Market Trends | Repair Operations | Technology

An adjuster for a small national insurer described serious flaws in  photo estimating at his carrier, calling such insurance industry apps in general “probably some of the worst things that they could have invented.”

The staff appraiser, whom we’ve kept anonymous to protect his job, said that customers provide inadequate photos and don’t focus on the relevant car parts.

“You’re getting extreme basic photos,” he said.

Unfortunately, this leads to damage being missed — and not being captured in the insurer’s estimate.

“We’re being told, ‘You write what you see, period,'” he said.

He said adjusters are instructed to always write to repair a bumper, no matter how damaged, and bumper beams are left off additional estimates.

Unlike a car inspected in person, “you will never blend” with a photo estimate. If a front fender’s damaged in a photo, the carrier won’t write to blend into the door — but in the field, an appraiser is allowed to do so.

“Our field hits are heavier hits,” he said.

Blending is omitted on photo estimates because the carrier doesn’t want the customer getting paid for blending and then not having the car repaired, he said.

Other interesting tidbits shared during the interview:

Actuaries caught off-guard: The staff appraiser said the underwriting department at his carrier failed to properly factor in the cost of scanning despite how high-profile a topic it was.

OEM parts: The company has a “pretty lax” policy about alternative parts, the appraiser said. If the first one ordered doesn’t fit, “the next part is OEM.”

The adjsuter said the company’s DRP shops know this and ultimately get OEM parts. Independent shops apparently haven’t figured it out — he said they typically still hunt around to find the cheapest part they can.

Basecoat reduction: The staff appraiser stressed photo and OEM repair procedure documentation as the best way to have an insurer pay for all of your collision work without a hassle, something we covered in greater detail here.

He mentioned that documentation becomes particularly important for basecoat reduction, otherwise, he risks a penalty from auditors if he compensates the shop correctly.

“Basecoat reduction is a huge thing,” he said.

He said that while Audatex and CCC, for example, describe lower deductions, his internal auditors still want him to write higher percentages unless he has documentation proving the shop merited the proper amount.

Featured image: An adjuster for a small national insurer described serious flaws in  photo estimating at his carrier, calling such insurance industry apps in general “probably some of the worst things that they could have invented.” (Kwangmoozaa/iStock)