January/April 2001

Insurance talk    
    policy briefs

HAND SHAKES 

APAC Customer Services Inc. to Manage Harmon’s Glass Claims
Minneapolis-based Apogee Enterprises’ Harmon Autoglass has signed a long-term, multi-million dollar agreement with a customer relationship management (CRM) firm, New York City’s APAC Customer Services Inc. Under the agreement, APAC’s customer service representatives will provide around-the-clock customer care to vehicle owners filing auto glass repair and replacement claims through Harmon’s glass claims network. In addition, the CRM firm will assume management for two Harmon custom interaction centers in Orlando, Fla., and Eau Claire, Wis.

“We are excited to work with APAC Customer Services to implement next-generation solutions in glass management and other services for our clients,” said Joe Deckman, executive vice president for Apogee. “This relationship allows Harmon to focus on gaining further efficiency in our core business of replacing and repairing auto glass.”

Officials at APAC are also looking forward to the venture and hope to carry Harmon into the future with its technological base and expertise. “Apogee Enterprises has recognized the expertise, efficiencies and opportunities to be gained through a relationship with a CRM and e-CRM solutions leader,” said Peter Leger, president and chief executive officer for APAC. “The solutions to be provided to Apogee Enterprises will set a new standard in today’s aftermarket automotive services marketplace.”


Glass Shops Bond in Suit Against Insurance Companies
Several auto glass shops have bonded together to form the Council for Auto Glass Safety and Integrity (CFAGS). Together, these shops plan to file a class-action suit against the major insurance companies of the nation, claiming that these companies have steered policyholders to auto glass shops that did not safely replace their windshields. Some of the examples of improper installation the CFAGS offers are windshields that were installed in sub-40-degree temperatures without sealant specified for cold weather.

According to the CFAGS, these insurance companies should have to reimburse policyholders that have been steered to certain shops, resulting in a faulty windshield replacement. Currently, the group is seeking new members and new funding from these members to support the suit. However, CFAGS assures those interested that it will not release their names or their shops’ names, to prevent retaliation from insurance companies. The group is led by Michael Ruscillo, president.

LYNX Services Takes Charge of Allstate’s Glass Claims Express Process
Both American Family Mutual Insurance and Allstate Insurance Company have named LYNX Services by PPG, based in Pittsburgh, as their sole provider for managing auto glass insurance claims throughout the United States. 

According to Allstate, its customers will be able to comment on their experiences with their auto glass claims through the new service. In addition, LYNX plans to update its website accordingly, offering consumers a chance to gain information to assist them in their claim online.

According to Sean Healy, who works with the public relations firm of Bozell Kamstra for LYNX, it began managing auto glass insurance claims in September in Kentucky, North Carolina, New Jersey, South Carolina and Tennessee. The program went nationwide in October.

Both companies agree that the transition has gone very smoothly.

“LYNX customer service representatives and our participating glass service providers are experienced in delivering the high level of customer service American Family policyholders expect,” said Barry Roberts, LYNX Services senior account manager. “With LYNX Services, one convenient, hassle-free call is all they need to connect with qualified glass shops.”

Roberts added LYNX will provide American Family policyholders with a large number of choices of various auto glass shops, as long as they qualify under the LYNX network’s standards.

IGPA Files ‘Contempt of Court’ Suit Against Olympic Auto Glass
The Independent Glass Professionals Association (IGPA) of Washington State has filed a claim against Olympic Auto Glass, based in Tacoma, Wash. According to the IGPA, the company was violating a Stipulated Permanent Injunction against waiving insurance deductibles and engaging in deceptive marketing practices. Olympic signed the injunction in May 1997 in a settlement agreement in a former suit against it by both Washington State and the IGPA.

In the previous case, the IGPA argued that Olympic’s statewide marketing effort, in which it offered $125 cash back on windshield replacement, violated the 1995 Insurance Fraud Act. The 1995 Insurance Fraud Act prohibits the systematic waiving of insurance deductibles and, according to the IGPA, Olympic was waiving insurance deductibles systematically through this offer. In addition, the association claimed that the company was using deceptive marketing practices to carry out the scheme covertly and to encourage customers to pay for windshield replacements with their own money, rather than with an insurance claim.

In opposition to these claims, Olympic argued that the IGPA had singled it out because its members could not compete with the company. Secondly, Olympic claims to have offered similar campaigns in the past, with gifts of $50 and $100 grocery coupons, without complaint from the IGPA. Yet in a rebuttal, the IGPA claimed that it had in fact filed complaints against the previous offers, but that the company had immediately withdrawn the other programs after receiving the complaints.

At press time, a trial was set for February 27, in which the IGPA planned to argue Olympic should be held in contempt of court, according to its official filing. However, Olympic owner and president Frank Kuhn expects the case to be dismissed or settled by then. His company has filed a motion used in more than 80 previous cases to have the case dismissed on the grounds that the IGPA is structured so that it does not have the legal standing to pursue this case. 

AGRR

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