VOLUME 6 - ISSUE 6  
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2004

MAILBOX LETTERS


Speedy Speaks Out
Dear AGRR:
In your September/October issue an article was printed detailing the unfortunate events related to our Speedy Glass business unit in British Columbia and the Insurance Company of British Columbia (ICBC). While we appreciate you made efforts to write a fair and balanced article, there are a couple of points we believe should be clarified for your readers. Please bear in mind, we are now encumbered by a strong Confidentiality Agreement with ICBC as part of our settlement agreement.

The substantive allegations related to contractual defaults. There were never any criminal charges against either Speedy Glass, TCG International Inc. or any of our employees.

Neither ICBC nor any consumers were overcharged. Payment of referral fees and the waiving of deductibles is not illegal in Canada and, in any event, only negatively impacted our own profitability.

Despite the fact that neither ICBC nor its customers were overcharged by Speedy Glass and that the deductibles waived and referral fees were paid to third parties out of Speedy’s own pocket, Speedy Glass has paid an equal amount to ICBC due to our contractual defaults. In essence, ICBC has profited to this extent and Speedy Glass is out this amount almost twice over.
Your article did not make it clear to your readers that other allegations in ICBC’s original Statement of Claim were never proven or agreed. To this end I draw your attention to the joint press release, which contained a clear recognition that the settled items related to deductibles waived and referral fees paid. Importantly, ICBC also agreed to the following statement in the final joint press release: “We were pleased, however, that the Ernst & Young review found that other allegations made by former employees in affidavits supplied to ICBC about Speedy Glass’s accounting practices were unfounded.”

This entire matter was damaging to our business in British Columbia, and we are now working hard to create a new and healthy relationship with ICBC. As always, I appreciate AGRR magazine and the fine job that it does in covering our industry.

Yours sincerely,
Stephen Schober
President and 
Chief Operating Officer
AutoStock International

Insurance Fraud?
Dear AGRR:
I don’t particularly feel sorry for the insurance industry in relation to auto glass insurance fraud. I feel that the insurance industry fat cats are responsible for the tremendous rise in auto glass claims fraud.

When I started in this business in 1976 there was no such thing as “networks” or Third Party Administrators (TPAs) for auto glass shops. Our company had a one-on-one relationship with nearly every insurance agent in 26 counties in southeastern North Carolina.

Insurance agents were allowed to care for their policyholders’ needs from within their own office without the restrictive handcuffing that today’s so-called agents are forced to deal with.

If an insured had a broken windshield, that person called his insurance agent, and was able to trust the agent to refer a qualified and reputable company to replace that windshield. The auto glass shop would send an invoice to the agent’s office, and the agent would remit payment to the glass shop. The process was simple and effective, with little hassle.

Now our world has evolved into the mess that it is today.

The insured calls his agent who, in turn, is forced to refer the insured to a TPA who, in turn, sends him to whoever offers the cheapest price, regardless of that company’s experience. An insured very likely will get an installer who has a year or less experience in replacing windshields.

Certificates and merit badges do not a qualified installer make. Insurance agents in years past were able to choose the services of a proven professional, working in a shop with which he had a relationship and was able to trust.

Not so today. Agents, or should I say premium collectors, have little say in the care of the people who pay their premiums and believe that the agent can help them in time of need.

Is there insurance fraud? Yes, but it is self-inclined. The insurance industry buries its head in the sand when it comes right down to it. They punish all the honest shops by browbeating us into profitless discounts, while ignoring the real problem, which is fighting the fraud where it exists.

Insurers want to fix it by insisting that we are all crooks and that they should be in charge of the pricing. Can you say “fox in the hen house?”

Dan Fisher
Auto Glass Associates
Mebane, N.C.

One Reader “Answers the Question”
Dear AGRR:
This letter is in response to a Mailbox letter in the September 2004 issue of AGRR from Gary Gifford of Glendale, Arizona, in which Mr. Gifford writes, “Answer the Question.”

Mr. Gifford rightly points out that impact points often appear as though the windshield is not actually fractured, but he then mistakenly assumes that it is not. A casual inspection by an untrained eye may lead one to comment, as Mr. Gifford did, “Thank God. It didn’t break my windshield.” However, a little stress on the glass and that “ping” becomes a crack; particularly at those points close to the edge of the glass. I have seen it thousands of times—a little chip turned into a crack.

It has been my experience that, for whatever reason, many glass retailers are not interested in repairing windshields and do so only to satisfy insurance company requirements of them. So it comes as no surprise that a retailer may have an issue with a repair-only company saving windshields that are otherwise destined for replacement. 

I am weary of glass retailers, individuals and companies who, for the most part, do not have expertise in repair and whose bottom line actually suffers from its proliferation, standing on a pedestal and berating the professionals who work diligently to improve the quality and acceptance of windshield repair. The insurance industry has recognized the benefits of repair for years. They strongly encourage it for many reasons, only one of which is cost. Repairing chips in critical areas of the glass is not unethical and fraudulent as Mr. Gifford asserts. 

It is sound practice. It would be satisfying if all repair and replacement companies were ethical and professional. But in the real world, unfortunately, there are always bad apples in every bunch. The windshield repair industry is not disproportionately corrupt as Mr. Gifford implies. In fact, my experience shows just the opposite. 

The National Windshield Repair Association (NWRA) and National Glass Association (NGA) are pursuing an ANSI standard for the repair of automotive glass. My company and other professionals in the industry welcome such a standard as we work hard every day to promote the legitimacy and acceptance of windshield repair as a viable alternative to windshield replacement. With or without the ANSI standard, repair professionals will continue to save thousands of windshields every year that would otherwise end up in the replacement company’s dumpster unnecessarily.

Jay R. Sampson
President
Ding Doctor Windshield Repair, Inc. 

AGRR

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