Technological advancements in vehicle construction and driver safety technologies are impacting the collision repair industry worldwide, and that extends to Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI).
As the compulsory auto insurer in Saskatchewan, SGI has seen first-hand how new technologies are affecting vehicle repairability. While the number of insurance claims is going down, the number of part replacements per repair is increasing, as is the cost of repairs for these advanced materials and technologies.
“It’s an exciting time right now – fast-paced almost doesn’t do it justice,” said Ciaran Downes, Senior Director, National Appraisal Services at SGI. “The new technology brings challenges but also opportunities for auto insurers, the collision repair industry and auto recyclers.”
To improve fuel economy, new vehicles are being constructed with advanced high-strength lightweight materials. Driver assistance systems are also becoming more complex and more common.
“Some of these features are standard with even base model vehicles,” said Downes. “As vehicle construction and safety features evolve, the industry must evolve too to keep pace and continue to provide excellent collision repair services for our mutual customers.”
That’s where SGI’s Safe and Quality Auto Repair Project comes in. “The goal of the project is to help ensure SGI customers continue to have access to a qualified repair network with the training, tools and equipment needed to repair today’s vehicles.”
Starting March 1, 2021, SGI accredited collision repair partners will require I-CAR Gold Class certification and equipment capable of welding high-strength steel body components. In addition to the new tools and training, SGI is introducing a new accreditation model.
“The new accreditation model moves away from the current tiered model,” said Downes. “Instead, it relies on a set of key-performance indicators targeting customer experience, repair quality and financials.
We’re also introducing a high-performance partner program, which will give our collision repair partners access to high levels of autonomy during repair.”
Downes continued: “We also know there have been court cases where repairers and insurers have been found liable for repairs that haven’t been done correctly and have resulted in some tragic outcomes for customers when they were involved in a subsequent collision. Repairs that are not done properly can devastate lives, and also financially ruin businesses. It’s in everyone’s best interests to ensure repairs are done to the gold standard.”
SGI consulted extensively with the collision repair industry to develop its new accreditation model.
“We share a common goal with our collision repair partners,” said Downes. “At the end of the day, we all care about our customers and want them to be safe. Bottom line: when a vehicle is repaired, it must be repaired safely and properly to protect our customers.”