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State Farm plans to show DRP shops’ certifications; USAA, Liberty Mutual supportive of OEM networks

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State Farm claims consultant Chris Evans said Thursday his company’s Select Service auto body shop locator will soon reveal OEM certifications held by individual repairers.

This would probably happen in the first quarter of 2021, he said.

“We believe that that’s what our customers’re asking for, and that’s what we’re gonna give ’em,” he said.

The move by the nation’s No. 1 insurer could increase overall awareness of the concept of OEM networks — something one automaker’s research indeed suggests customers value. This increased consumer knowledge could be a positive for the certified segment of the collision industry, regardless of DRP status, and speed up the time to certification ROI for them.

Ford has reported data that 52 percent of customers felt choosing a body shop certified by a manufacturer was more important than one conveniently located (7 percent felt this was more important), recommended by the insurance company (20 percent) or recommended by a friend or family member (21 percent).

Evans’ comments came during a virtual MSO Symposium panel of representatives from Top 10 insurers. (Register here to catch the final free virtual sessions, which start at 3 p.m. ET today.)

Moderator Stephen Applebaum, managing partner of Insurance Solutions Group, had asked the carriers if “certification programs — of any kind” factored into their direct repair programs.

Allstate auto line director Sandee Lindorfer, who spoke first, noted that Allstate had required I-CAR Gold Class status for about a decade and called that training critical for safe repairs.

“On that certification, we’ve been behind that for quite some time,” she said.

Evans, who spoke second, focused on OEM certification and announced the new locator information. He said State Farm didn’t require automaker network participation for Select Service shops, but it was exploring the concept of OEM certification.

“It’s not going away,” Evans said.

He called it “really about the customer.” What did customers want, and were they pursuing OEM certification? State Farm saw an “increasing trend in that direction,” he said. “… We are serious about it.”

USAA auto claims AVP and senior experience owner Patrick Burnett called a repairer’s I-CAR education “table stakes” for his insurer’s DRP. (This appeared to be a reference to Gold Class status.) While his company didn’t require OEM certification, “we encourage it.”

He said USAA wanted to partner with shops demonstrating a commitment to the “right thing.”

“From a member perspective … we want to make sure we have a healthy balance of repair facilities that are capable of getting vehicles repaired properly, quickly and in alignment with the appropriate standard,” he said.

Liberty Mutual auto physical damage Vice President Scott Kohl called OEM certification “more and more important,” particularly as vehicles become more complicated.

“OEM certs do matter,” he said. “… While it isn’t a requirement, it certainly is beneficial.”

He called it important that the company supported its certified direct repair program facilities with volume “so that that moves to their body shops.”


State Farm claims consultant Chris Evans speaks during the virtual MSO Symposium on Nov. 12, 2020. (Screenshot from MSO Symposium video)

Clockwise from top left, Moderator Stephen Applebaum, managing partner of Insurance Solutions Group; Allstate auto line director Sandee Lindorfer; State Farm claim consultant Chris Evans; Liberty Mutual auto physical damage Vice President Scott Kohl; and USAA auto claims AVP and senior experience owner Patrick Burnett participate in a Nov. 12, 2020, virtual MSO Symposium panel. (Screenshot from MSO Symposium video)

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