Volume 34, Number 6, June 1999

 

USGAuto NEWS

Reimbursement for Windshield Glass Replacement Clarified in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has issued a bulletin which clarifies insurance companies responsibilities in regards to reimbursement for windshield glass replacement or repair. Minnesota Statutes, Section 72A.201, subdivision 6, clauses (14), (15) and (16) will be enforced in accordance with the statutory interpretation given by the Minnesota courts.

The interpretation states that any insurance company which fails to assume "all reasonable costs sufficient to pay [its] insured’s chosen vendor for the repair or replacement of comparable window glass," will be in violation. It also clarifies that an insurance company may recommend a vendor, however, before recommendation, the insured should be offered an opportunity to choose the vendor.

In related news, a Minnesota glass shop recently scored a victory over an insurance company. George Corporaal, president of MN-based Glass Service, won a court case against Progressive Insurance. In 1996 Progressive began shorting Glass Service invoices over what Progressive believed to be unreasonable costs. Glass Service fought back, and on March 5, 1999, the Court ruled in favor of Glass Service in the amount of $14,974.59 plus interest.

One of the findings for judgement quoted from Minnesota Statute section 72A.201 subdivision 6(14) which allows insureds to have their windshields replaced at a vendor of their choice. The Court found that Glass Service did establish that Progressive breached its contract with insureds by failing to pay all reasonable costs to "repair or replace the property with other property of like kind and quality." It was found that Progressive did not take into consideration the quality of materials nor the quality of installers in determining the reasonable cost to pay Glass Service, and therefore, failed to establish that Glass Service’s prices are unreasonable under the circumstances of the case.

Wiper Blades and Air Bag Failure Dominate NHTSA Complaints
The 1993 Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable are being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration after complaints that the windshield wipers are ineffective. The agency has received approximately 25 complaints that the wipers failed, causing some of the drivers to pull off to the side of the road because they could not see.

The 1995 Mazda Miata is being investigated after complaints that the air bags deploy for no apparent reason. One motorist returned to his parked car and found the air bag deployed, and in another instance a driver was traveling 25 to 30 mph and the air bag deployed, according to the report filed with the agency. In 1998, Mazda recalled the 1995 and 1996 Mazda 626 and MX6 models after complaints from more than 50 drivers regarding the air bag.

Pilkington to Close OEM Plant in Texas
Pilkington Libbey-Owens-Ford of Toledo, OH, has announced it is closing its OEM windshield plant in Sherman, Texas. The company says it will be increasing capacity at its plants in Ontario, Canada and Indiana. According to the company, it is reorganizing and streamlining its automotive OEM operations.

Once the 400 employee plant is closed in Texas, the transfer of production to the other facilities will begin and should be completed by the fourth quarter of 2000. The company will invest $22 million to optimize capacity in its Canada and Indiana facilities. Equipment and lines will be upgraded and the production flow simplified, according to the company.

In related news, Glass Technology of Durango, CO, has announced that its windshield repair kits, supplies and Diamond Clear resins are now available through all Pilkington-LOF service centers. Due to Glass Technology’s growth, the company needed to open additional distribution channels for its products and resins, according to Phil Lemler, executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Carstation.com Showcases Car Care Network
Carstation.com, a San Francisco Internet-based company, has introduced the Car Care Network. The company says it will offer electronic access to new products, regional automotive glass replacement services, affiliated repair facility referrals and comprehensive links to automotive information for professionals as well as consumers, according to PRNewswire. Vendors can have their company listed by going to the web page and entering pertinent information. The company has plans to offer additional products and services according to customer requirements and feedback. The company’s website address is www.carstation.com and

AlliedSignal Receives Award from Exxon
AlliedSignal Inc. of Morris Township, NJ, has received Exxon Chemical America’s 1998 Supplier Excellence Award. AlliedSignal was one of only six companies honored. The company was chosen due to its distinguished performance in the supply of Boron Trifluoride Dihydrate catalyst to Exxon’s Baton Rouge, LA, facility.

Duncan Systems Inc. Named Small Business of the Month
The Elkhart, IN, county Chamber of Commerce recently named Duncan Systems Inc. of Elkhart, Small Business of the Month. According to the company, it has nearly doubled in size and business volume annually since opening seven years ago. The company has 80 employees in offices in Oregon, Nevada and Florida. The Small Business of the Month award is presented to companies with under 100 employees who have shown outstanding performance in a variety of categories.

Safelite Glass Corp. Receives Recognition
Safelite Glass Corp. of Columbus, OH, has been recognized by Automotive Fleet Magazine as one of the nation’s largest commercial fleets. According to the company, Safelite placed thirty-third in the annual listing, reporting 3,135 trucks and vans. The company’s fleet is managed by Mark Klein.

In addition, Safelite has been named one of central Ohio’s largest employers by Columbus financial weekly magazine, Business First. Safelite placed eighty-seventh in the annual listing of the city’s largest employers, reporting 918 associates.

Safelite was also honored by GEICO Direct Insurance who presented Safelite AutoGlass with a Certificate of Partnership Excellence.

In other news, Safelite says they and Progressive Auto Insurance have renewed their partnership with a six-year contract. The new contract will be in effect through 2004. Progressive policyholders who need glass repair or replacement are transferred directly from a call center to a Safelite customer service member in Chicago. The Safelite associate then arranges for the policyholder to have the repair or replacement completed by a Safelite service center or by an independent glass shop of their preference.

State Farm Lowers California Rates
State Farm Insurance Company has lowered its private passenger auto insurance rate in California an average of 8.4 percent. The reduction is the fourth in California since 1995. Overall, the company has given its California policyholders $265 million in dividends since November 1, 1997. The latest reduction includes State Farm’s introduction of a ten percent multiple line discount for auto customers who have other State Farm policies.

Glasparts Refines RV Windshield Database
Glasparts Inc. of Portland, OR, is refining its RV windshield database. According to the company, the upgraded database will provide suggested list price, labor times and availability of mouldings and gaskets. Pictures and any relevant installation history will be included. The company says that by accessing this information, installers will be able to quickly and accurately order parts, have the support of OEM replacement specs and require proper reimbursement for true labor performed.

NMMC Rewards AP Technoglass
AP Technoglass of Elizabethtown, KY, received two top quality awards at the 1998 NMMC Supplier Quality Awards Ceremony held in Nashville, TN. AP Technoglass vice president of sales and marketing, Hideki Takase, accepted the company’s third consecutive Quality Master Award and second consecutive Zero Defects Award. NMMC’s Quality Master Awards are computed on a combined rating scale based on evaluations from engineering, manufacturing, product quality, inventory control and purchasing. Zero defects awards are earned by suppliers who achieve an annual defect rate of fewer than five parts per million.

New Auto Glass Website Focuses on Consumers
Dennis Hill, webmaster of www.autoglassamerica.com, of Cedar Rapids, IA, says his new website is geared towards consumer education concerning auto glass replacement. The website features consumer information and tips, consumer news, industry news and a listing of professional auto glass shops. Auto glass shops with less than six stores are listed free. According to Hill, the website stresses consumer satisfaction and industry professionalism.

Windshield Repair Warehouse Cuts Resin Prices
Windshield Repair Warehouse of Telluride, CO, announced it is reducing resin prices by 25 percent on 15cc products and by 16 percent on one ounce products. The price reduction brings the price of a 15cc bottle to $14.95.

PPG to Use Manugistics
PPG of Pittsburgh, has chosen Manugistics Group Inc.’s supply chain optimization software to support its automotive replacement glass division. The software will be used to improve forecasting accuracy, enhance the ability to track part supersession and co-product requirements and coordinate the supply of product, according to Manugistics.

Glass Shop in Virginia Selling Wholesale Windshields
Windshield City of Virginia is selling windshields wholesale to the public, a practice not widely seen in the industry. The company is also in the repair and replacement business. Glass for all vehicles, including classic cars and hard-to-find glass is available in the company’s $1 million inventory, according to the company. The company is advertising in local newspapers and has a website at

ABRA Auto Body & Glass Acquires Two Companies
ABRA Auto Body & Glass of Minneapolis has acquired two more companies. Classic Paint & Body of Marietta, GA, a body shop for luxury import vehicles, is ABRA’s fifth acquisition in Georgia. "We have a loyal customer base, a great technician team and we do quality work, but in order to grow and increase revenues we [co-owner Bob McGraw] knew we had to focus more on automating our facility," said Gene Rhodes, former co-owner of Classic Paint.

Kitterman’s Collision Center of Lawrenceville, GA, is ABRA’s sixth Georgia acquisition. Previous owner Lawrence Kitterman sold his business due to a "... need for additional support in order to achieve operational and employee growth." According to Tim Adelmann, vice president and COO of ABRA, "Kitterman’s Collision Center is an excellent acquisition for us. We believe that through additional systems, programs and resources, this business will be capable of reaching its greatest growth potential."

Pilkington-LOF Receives Awards
Pilkington Libbey-Owens-Ford has been honored by two of its customers. New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. presented the company with a certificate of achievement in delivery performance for delivery of 100 percent of its shipments on schedule.

Due to Pilkington’s work in supplying glass for the Toyota Tacoma pick-up truck, Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America (TMMNA) presented two awards: one for delivery performance and another for value improvement. This is the second consecutive year Pilkington has been recognized by Toyota.

Correction
In the May issue of USGlass (see USGAuto News, page 75), Senate Resolution #35 was misidentified. The bill directs the Budget and Finance Committee to review insurance company activities and submit a report of their findings.


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