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Car insurance is going digital

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posted on Sep, 8 2016 @ 12:19 PM
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I work in a body shop, and so I have to not only deal with making the customers happy, but also be the middle-man between them and their insurance. Basically when someone comes for an estimate, the insurance companies want to review that information and cut costs wherever possible (they never pay us enough to cover the cost of paint material, for instance). That's bad enough, but the past few years have been getting worse.

Insurance companies used to send out an adjuster to the field, and he or she would go around to the various body shops in their area, or sometimes even go to the customer's house or workplace to look at a vehicle and write their own estimates, take pictures to review later, etc. That way, we could usually show them everything we found, and they'd add it to their estimate usually, and if we had a problem later we could get a supplement if we missed or couldn't see something major until we started removing or repairing parts.

Now, however, most insurance companies are no longer sending out adjusters to the field, but rather having the customer or the body shop take pictures, write up an estimate, and email it to them. Adjusters now spend most of their time in an office, rather than going out to look at the vehicles they're supposed to be taking care of for their customers. Since my boss is old fashioned and not tech-savvy in any way, I am the one who has to take the pictures, scan his estimate, and email it to the adjusters. Sometimes I have a direct email to the adjuster who is handling the claim, but other companies have a general catch-all email that you send it to.

This doesn't sound so difficult on the surface, but in reality, those pictures don't do justice to an accident. If there is a small bend in somebody's fender or door that we need to fix, I have to try to get some crazy angle on the pictures so that it reflects light just right for the bend to actually show up. Sometimes you still can't even tell it's there, especially if it's on a white car. For particularly bad accidents, I have to take many pictures to show every single part that needs to be repaired or replaced, and WHY it needs to be repaired or replaced. Then they want a picture of the mileage, VIN number, and the rest of the car so they can determine what the vehicle is worth, in case it's totaled.

This means that sometimes I have a couple dozen pictures I need to send in an email... but guess what; You can only attach so much to an email, and every server is different in the amount of attachments that can be handled. So, sometimes I can send just a few pictures in one or two emails and be fine, but other times I have to attach and send every individual god-forsaken picture in it's own email. What's worse is that I don't know the limits of the server I'm sending to, and generally don't receive feedback from the server until a few days have past that the attachments were too large. Then I have to send it all over again, but break it down into smaller chunks, or make the pictures smaller, or whatever. It's annoying and takes way too much time to do.

One particular case we're dealing with right now, we have taken pictures and sent them along with our estimate. Then the adjuster called us to tell us that they don't see any damage to the bumper (white car, go figure) so they're not paying us anything for the damage on that, and they found a taillight for $200 rather than the genuine OEM replacement we put on our estimate since this is a brand new car, which costs $450 from the manufacturer. So now we have to take more pictures to hopefully show the damage on the bumper since they can't see it in the picture of our email, and they're surely not coming to look at in in person since they're in Pennsylvania and we're in North Carolina, so we can only try it again and argue with them some more.

I'm sure the reasoning behind this was to save money by needing less adjusters to cover a larger area, since they wouldn't be out in the field anymore and could technically do it from anywhere in the country, since it's all electronic, and also to not have to provide them a vehicle and fuel, plus maintenance and insurance on that vehicle as well. That sounds great for their bottom line, but they've basically put more work on the body shops, and made their customers do the run-around in order to operate this way. It may be saving them money but it's costing us more than ever, especially since they short us on so much in the first place.

There are only a couple of insurance companies that still send out adjusters, and I appreciate them more than ever now. But to the others... PLEASE STOP THIS NONSENSE.




posted on Sep, 8 2016 @ 12:24 PM
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I despise the insurance industry. It's a giant scam. Thanks a lot, lobbyists.



posted on Sep, 8 2016 @ 12:32 PM
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a reply to: InspectorGadget13

I have always hated insurance. With the amount I have spent on insurance since I started driving, I could have bought another car already! And then they raise my rates over $100 more when my new car was 2 years old, since it was "no longer new", so it no longer qualifies for the "new car discount". No, it wasn't a 'discount'. It was an excuse to charge me more money!

I have never personally made a claim or been in an accident. I've never even had a ticket before in my life, and I could easily take care of mine and anyone else's car if I ever did get in an accident that was my fault. Why can't I insure myself?
edit on 8-9-2016 by Aldakoopa because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 8 2016 @ 01:09 PM
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originally posted by: Aldakoopa
a reply to: InspectorGadget13

I have always hated insurance. With the amount I have spent on insurance since I started driving, I could have bought another car already! And then they raise my rates over $100 more when my new car was 2 years old, since it was "no longer new", so it no longer qualifies for the "new car discount". No, it wasn't a 'discount'. It was an excuse to charge me more money!

I have never personally made a claim or been in an accident. I've never even had a ticket before in my life, and I could easily take care of mine and anyone else's car if I ever did get in an accident that was my fault. Why can't I insure myself?


You can insure yourself. IIRC, In many states if you can prove you have enough wealth to cover most insurance claims, you can self-insure.

Insurance is a bet. Most people don't have the money to pay to replace a car or someone's medical bills. So you pay a little each month for insurance to cover you. The insurance company is betting that you don't have an accident. The insurance company makes money by collecting more from those who don't have accidents to cover those who do. This is why they employ actuaries and statisticians to figure out risk and charge premiums based on said risk.



posted on Sep, 8 2016 @ 01:15 PM
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originally posted by: Aldakoopa
I work in a body shop, and so I have to not only deal with making the customers happy, but also be the middle-man between them and their insurance. Basically when someone comes for an estimate, the insurance companies want to review that information and cut costs wherever possible (they never pay us enough to cover the cost of paint material, for instance). That's bad enough, but the past few years have been getting worse.

Insurance companies used to send out an adjuster to the field, and he or she would go around to the various body shops in their area, or sometimes even go to the customer's house or workplace to look at a vehicle and write their own estimates, take pictures to review later, etc. That way, we could usually show them everything we found, and they'd add it to their estimate usually, and if we had a problem later we could get a supplement if we missed or couldn't see something major until we started removing or repairing parts.

Now, however, most insurance companies are no longer sending out adjusters to the field, but rather having the customer or the body shop take pictures, write up an estimate, and email it to them. Adjusters now spend most of their time in an office, rather than going out to look at the vehicles they're supposed to be taking care of for their customers. Since my boss is old fashioned and not tech-savvy in any way, I am the one who has to take the pictures, scan his estimate, and email it to the adjusters. Sometimes I have a direct email to the adjuster who is handling the claim, but other companies have a general catch-all email that you send it to.

This doesn't sound so difficult on the surface, but in reality, those pictures don't do justice to an accident. If there is a small bend in somebody's fender or door that we need to fix, I have to try to get some crazy angle on the pictures so that it reflects light just right for the bend to actually show up. Sometimes you still can't even tell it's there, especially if it's on a white car. For particularly bad accidents, I have to take many pictures to show every single part that needs to be repaired or replaced, and WHY it needs to be repaired or replaced. Then they want a picture of the mileage, VIN number, and the rest of the car so they can determine what the vehicle is worth, in case it's totaled.

This means that sometimes I have a couple dozen pictures I need to send in an email... but guess what; You can only attach so much to an email, and every server is different in the amount of attachments that can be handled. So, sometimes I can send just a few pictures in one or two emails and be fine, but other times I have to attach and send every individual god-forsaken picture in it's own email. What's worse is that I don't know the limits of the server I'm sending to, and generally don't receive feedback from the server until a few days have past that the attachments were too large. Then I have to send it all over again, but break it down into smaller chunks, or make the pictures smaller, or whatever. It's annoying and takes way too much time to do.

One particular case we're dealing with right now, we have taken pictures and sent them along with our estimate. Then the adjuster called us to tell us that they don't see any damage to the bumper (white car, go figure) so they're not paying us anything for the damage on that, and they found a taillight for $200 rather than the genuine OEM replacement we put on our estimate since this is a brand new car, which costs $450 from the manufacturer. So now we have to take more pictures to hopefully show the damage on the bumper since they can't see it in the picture of our email, and they're surely not coming to look at in in person since they're in Pennsylvania and we're in North Carolina, so we can only try it again and argue with them some more.

I'm sure the reasoning behind this was to save money by needing less adjusters to cover a larger area, since they wouldn't be out in the field anymore and could technically do it from anywhere in the country, since it's all electronic, and also to not have to provide them a vehicle and fuel, plus maintenance and insurance on that vehicle as well. That sounds great for their bottom line, but they've basically put more work on the body shops, and made their customers do the run-around in order to operate this way. It may be saving them money but it's costing us more than ever, especially since they short us on so much in the first place.

There are only a couple of insurance companies that still send out adjusters, and I appreciate them more than ever now. But to the others... PLEASE STOP THIS NONSENSE.


Part of the problem is that insurance is viewed by many consumers as a commodity. You are just experiencing the race to the bottom as companies find themselves competing on price instead of overall value.

Consumers just want to pay the cheapest and thus the insurance companies are under pressure to cut costs. Unlike some products, you don't really know if you have a good insurance policy until you need to make claim. As a result, consumers are ignorant of the product and make their purchase decision on price alone.

For example, good insurance company could say they will replace everything with OEM parts. Bad insurance company will buy parts off ebay. The consumer doesn't understand the significance of the difference and rather save say $20/mo going with the cheaper company. It isn't until they actually have a claim that they realize how crappy their coverage may have been.

The reality is businesses respond to incentives. So if the consumer is shopping for lowest price, the insurance company is just going to look for ways they can cut costs to give the consumer what they want.



posted on Sep, 8 2016 @ 01:19 PM
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originally posted by: Aldakoopa

There are only a couple of insurance companies that still send out adjusters, and I appreciate them more than ever now. But to the others... PLEASE STOP THIS NONSENSE.


That was very informative. Thank you for posting. But they are NOT going to "stop this nonsense." You and your boss will have to adapt or go out of business. You can be proactive about this, or continue to seethe, rant, and call all insurance companies names. A few ideas:

1. Call other body shops and ask how they are handling the issue.
2. Take lower-resolution pictures so they will transmit more easily.
3. Establish a central registry server for the pictures--a long term project, but a likely evolution for the issue.
4. Change shops to one that is more tech savvy. Your boss's lack here is a serious problem.

In my state you can insist on OEM parts regardless of a cheaper one being available. Perhaps that's not the law in NC, but it is here in WA. I assume you are using a software package that does estimating. They seem to be quite specific and detailed.

Good luck.



posted on Sep, 8 2016 @ 01:24 PM
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a reply to: Aldakoopa

Why don't you upload the pics to something like Wetransfrer and then e-mail the link to the files?

soulwaxer



posted on Sep, 8 2016 @ 01:32 PM
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originally posted by: Aldakoopa
a reply to: InspectorGadget13

I have never personally made a claim or been in an accident. I've never even had a ticket before in my life, and I could easily take care of mine and anyone else's car if I ever did get in an accident that was my fault. Why can't I insure myself?


Lucky you (so far). You could maybe take care of the car itself, but how about liability for half a million dollars? Can you easily take care of that? How about medical bills for anyone who is seriously hurt? Can you easily take care of that? How about a 'wrongful death' lawsuit? Can you easily take care of that. Anyone with any significant net worth should have not only house and car insurance, but also an "umbrella" policy which kicks in when that half million dollars for your liability doesn't cut it. The general rule of thumb is to cover your net worth. Umbrella policies are really not that expensive and if you are found liable for an accident, if you don't have it, it could wipe you out. It makes sense for large companies who have fleets, like AT&T, to insure themselves because individually insuring each vehicle would way exceed the cost of their likely losses and they have the cash to cover any eventuality.

Insurance isn't just about the car. I want you insured in case you hit me.



posted on Sep, 8 2016 @ 01:35 PM
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a reply to: Aldakoopa

I know all about this bro.

My friend Mike, or should I say my garunteed Thursday night cab fare home... He is an adjuster for every single company. And he used to tell me all kinds of # about his journey through adjustment land. The ride home was only about 4.5 miles but man... Back in 2012 before all of this started he said to me: get the # away from farmers insurance. So I went with Allstate and he told me they are decent at best. But even so... The insurance company does exactly what you said. They search for salvage parts.

Even if it is a brand new car they will find something that will fit it and call it a day.

It will only get worse and worse. I have had to deal with this for a very long time. And it is not just insurance companies cutting coats for that bottom line.

Everyone is cutting costs.

It is happening at such an alarming rate that I no longer care about it.

Let me paint up the picture of how it was when I had to jump ship from a company sinking fast and how it went down.

I worked as a cab driver. And when they weren't making money because of the take over from uber.... We suddenly lost call takers. It got down to just 3 call takers. Then we lost the cashiers and the company pretty much forced us to open a bank account with first bank in order to receive payment from credit card transactions done through their system. Which I will get to that in a minute. Next we had to sign a new contract that basically said they are cutting their insurance coverage on all vehicles and now we are responsible for replacing parts. I broke my bumper once and they charged me 350 dollars for it. But they gave me a bumper from a previous taxi that'd been in a horrific accident. Then I got rained by a truck and they charged me 4,215.49 for the accident to replace the entire cab. Then after all was said and done and I quit? Two weeks later they sold the company.

So now I am beginning to see this happening everywhere.

In my current job where I sit we make enough money to support our store. But everywhere else... Like where I am about to go? I have just become a manager and have worked at several stores. So I know what to expect already. It is a very small workforce. Just me and 1 driver. 2 #ing people to run the sooner until 10.

This is getting ridiculous. But I am not scared anymore.

I jumped off a ship before... And this time e I feel like riding it all the way into Davy Jones' locker.

# it. I am tired of running away like everyone else.



posted on Sep, 8 2016 @ 02:22 PM
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I'm at work on my phone right now, so I can't respond to everyone, I will do that later when I get off work. I just wanted to say that, at the time I wrote my last post, I wasn't thinking about major accidents. Smaller fender benders and whatnot I could take care of myself just fine. I would not be able to replace someone's car if totalled, especially not any high-dollar Mercedes or Lexus or something, and I was not thinking of medical coverage or death, those are also thongs I would not be able to handle, obviously.

So, I rescind my previous statement now that I'm thinking with a clearer head and not one that's angry at State Farm for not accepting my emails for one job and arguing that another car is not damaged because they can't see it in the pictures.



posted on Sep, 8 2016 @ 02:32 PM
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a reply to: Aldakoopa

Three things.

First is insurance companies are bastards and sons of bitches. The industry is fuelled by screwing a captive market.

Second is have you thought of getting a Dropbox account for the business? You can send the insurers links to specific folders which will save you the time of emailing each image.

Third is you could upload HD footage to a file-sharing site (like Dropbox) and send them the links. Play about with the lighting/time of day so the dints and dings show up on the camera.

They're too big to challenge. It's 'roll with it or get rolled over.' Maybe a file hosting site will cut the crap and make your life a bit easier?



posted on Sep, 8 2016 @ 02:58 PM
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a reply to: Aldakoopa

Now what if...you invoiced the insurance company an amount for the picture taking, and administrative work. Every body shop I know of has mechanics, and maybe one administrator who is usually so busy invoicing and dealing with customers that there's no real time to keep up with the work of am insurance adjuster. So, a possible fix may be to hire your own insurance specialist?

There's the risk the insurance company says no, but there's a good chance they'll pay it. So you've created a job for someone and freed up time...and maybe saved a lot of frustration.



posted on Sep, 10 2016 @ 12:58 AM
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I'm going to try to reply to everybody all at once here, so bear with me. lol

I hadn't thought about a file hosting site or something like that. I doubt they would accept it, or at least not all of them. State Farm got upset that I put my attachments in a zip folder before, said I could only attach PDFs and JPEGs to the email. They have the smallest available attachment size and they're the pickiest about what you send them.

I've already lowered the resolution of the pictures I'm taking. I'm afraid to take it too far, as they have rejected some that were too low resolution before, even though I could still see the damage fine. I mean they didn't look low res or anything, they just didn't meet their standards I guess. I don't know what they want half the time. It's ridiculous.

I can't always control the lighting or time of day. Most of the jobs we get are still people's daily transportation, and a fender bender doesn't always keep you from being able to drive it. Insurance wants us to get as many parts painted beforehand anyway so they don't have to rent a vehicle as long, so we won't get the car to work on our time until we get parts and get ready for it. When the customer shows up for an estimate, that's it. If it's noon and the sun is shining bright, or if it's dark out at 5:00PM in the winter and raining. I have to deal with what comes my way.

As far as hiring someone else, we're just a small shop. It's my boss and I. We used to have another worker but he quit to be a fisherman as soon as he got a boat up and running. I'm not constantly doing these emails, but I do have to do several a month. The rest of the time I'm in the shop sanding, filling, painting, etc. just like any other day. Charging them an administrative fee would be funny though.




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