All posts filed under “Vehicle Structure

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IIHS Safety Ratings and Repairs

IIHS is the acronym for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.  This is an American organization founded in 1959 by insurance companies interested in understanding all aspects of highway safety. With their business built on insuring cars and drivers it makes sense that they have a greater understanding of accidents, damage and injury.

This link gives a good background on the IIHS and how it has evolved

One of the most publicly visible areas of IIHS work is their crash safety rating system, which is developed based on crash tests in their own testing facility. This rating has real world implications, with a 5 Star IIHS rating used by manufacturers as a selling feature and by insurers as a guide to setting insurance rates.

Manufacturers pay a lot of attention and will make design changes to address the issues that prevented them from getting top scores. You will be safer in a 2016 vehicle than you would be in a 2010 or 2005 vehicle in the same type of hit.  You will probably be safer still in the 2017 because none of the manufacturers move backwards on safety.

The car may be somewhat more expensive to repair, but you will not care much about that if you walk away from the accident with no injury. Your insurance company should be ready to pay an extra $2,000 or $3,000 or even $10,000 to repair your car if tens or even hundreds of thousands in injury costs are saved.

5 Stars to 3

The insurance company should be ready to pay; but then we run into the real world of measurement and reward in a compartmentalized business. The insurance adjuster, and the entire claims department, is judged by the amount of money paid out; lower claim costs are viewed as a good thing and the in-depth quality of repairs is not yet measured.

John  Huetter of Repairer Driven  News goes into this discussion in more depth  http://www.repairerdrivennews.com/2016/11/11/iihs-top-safety-pick-criteria-and-what-it-really-means-for-collision-repair/ and importantly attributes the blame for  the current inadequate repair model equally to both  repairers and insurers.

In the unregulated world that we work in the insurance companies are probably the best positioned to insist on a proper repair but the huge emphasis on cost is preventing them from doing this.

The first company to honestly address the issue of rating and insuring 5 Star cars and then accepting and paying for repairs that leave the car at a 3 Star level has yet to step forward. It is a big problem, but there are lots of very smart people on staff at insurance companies. They will figure it out but it will take time.  There’s that 5 year timeline again

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Next Accident Ready? How do You Know?

Unfortunately, the short glib answer is ‘you don’t’.

There are many repair facilities working with or toward Next Accident Ready repair principles and it is these industry participants that will be able to provide the right repair now. But there are far more that are not yet working with these principles and the problem is that to a lay person these facilities are not differentiated by appearance or presentation from those that do strive for Next Accident Readiness.

Last week I was talking to a knowledgeable car owner about RFINA repairs and she understood quickly what I was saying. She then asked ’how do I know I am getting the right repairs, what questions can I ask.’ I thought for a few seconds and could only answer ‘there really are no questions you can ask, because the questions themselves require a knowledge of repair procedures.’

There will not be many car owners who would be able to ask;

Does your shop have electronic 3 dimensional measuring and a solid 4 point anchoring system with the capability for a 5th or 6th anchor point if needed?’

Do you have a damage report writer who can tell your technician exactly what metals are used in the structure of my car and what repair or replace procedures have to be followed?

Are your technicians trained in the use of a resistance spot welder, silicone bronze MIG brazing, and high strength steel MIG Welding?

Do you have access to OEM grade scan equipment that will allow you to perform a pre-repair systems diagnostic scan as part of the damage report and then a post repair scan to ensure that all systems are fully functional?

Do you have a very good professional relationship with my insurance company that will allow them to authorize all needed repair procedures and parts?

Most people would sound like they were reading from a script with these questions.

Perhaps a question that could be asked is ‘are you confident that your equipment and staff will allow you to repair this damage in a way that returns my car to true pre-accident safety’.

The answer should be a thoughtful and confident, with perhaps an offer of a look at some of the equipment and/or the offer of a copy of the repair documentation after the repair is completed. If the answer is ‘sure we’ve fixed lots of these cars before’ that may not be as confidence inspiring.

In the past one or two years, more progressive repairers have become actively involved in training and certification. If the repair shop has current certificates and staff training designations posted this is another sign of a facility that is paying attention to rapidly changing repair requirements.

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End of Year Post

On Time, Clean and Tidy, Polite Staff, Great Communication  =  A Happy Owner

Below Average Severity (Cost)  =  A Happy Bill Payer

Efficient Repairs and a Good Profit Margin = A Happy Operations Manager

10s All Around!

Is the Car Safe and Next Accident Ready?  We Don’t Actually Measure that One

This site was started in July of this year based on the theme of vehicle owners being left out of the discussion of how their cars would be repaired now and in the near future. Very rapidly changing repair requirements were colliding with very entrenched out-of-date cultures within both the repair and insurance sides of the industry

What is Being Measured ?

One hot topic of the past few months has been the measurement of results, commonly referred to in the collision repair industry as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs.) In the insurer repairer world, the relationship is based almost completely on these numbers with the most important being customer satisfaction and anything that affects cost.

This July ,2016  article by John Huetter in RDN includes a very interesting video link that has since resurfaced in a number of other articles. Going back to my irreverent heading for this post ‘10s all around’ but something was definitely not right.

Who is Measuring Quality?

Quality of repair scores are based on the vehicle owner’s response. The problem is that the vehicle owner is not qualified to answer questions about safe and correct repairs. They only see the clean shiny painted result and have no way of knowing how the structural repairs, which are not easily visible in the completed vehicle, were done. They also do not realize that their car is being repaired in an unregulated environment with many different participants looking for a profit

Repairs will not get less complex and the answer will not be for consumers to become educated about the technical aspects of vehicle repair. The industry will have to mature to the point where the ability to perform safe repairs on modern vehicles becomes the minimum entry point for participants.

Finishing with my constant theme. We will get there but we are not there yet

 

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Ready for or Causing the Next Accident?

I have tried to keep posts focused on the topic of Next Accident Readiness and the performance of the repaired vehicle in a subsequent impact. In this one I will move off the focus to the very related topic of accidents caused by incomplete repair.

As an example of the subtlety, and importance of complete repairs this article from Repairer Driven News on Oct 4th discusses how Safelite Glass plans to equip their shops with calibration equipment that will allow them to do needed resets after windshield replacement. The point of this is not to teach you about the intricacies of windshield repair, but to show that complexity is rapidly changing in every aspect of car design and repair. If this attention is needed after glass replacement it becomes easier to see why it is very important in collision repair.

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2016 Honda Civic Structure and Metals

Here is a very good example of the critical need for information and careful repair. This new Honda Civic is an excellent and affordable car that many people will buy and use for everything from city commuting to regular highway travel. It is a car that your family will use.

To meet the equally important objectives of efficiency and safety Honda applied their significant engineering capabilities to make the structure of the car from steel of 5 different strengths, aluminum and plastic composite.

Following are photos of a cutaway demonstration car, which were taken in person at a trade show in Toronto in January. Each colour is a different grade of steel, each with its own requirements for repair or replacement. To maintain the designed safety features of the car the integrity of each section must be maintained.

The car that the technician will be repairing will not be colour coded and it is easy to see that a correct repair to pre-accident condition cannot be done without very complete supporting information and direction.

The photos tell a story but for more information this link leads to a more in depth discussion of this new 2016 Civic.