Public Defender: Why some repairers are ahead of the collision curve

by Andrew Shepherd

In Canada, three provinces are embracing the certification of all collision repair shops against public standards. This system has existed in Manitoba since 2018, will be implemented by Saskatchewan in 2021, and is expected to be implemented by B.C. some time later.

These provinces are demonstrating an exemplary commitment to collision repair quality and efficiency.

The common denominator in these jurisdictions is, of course, public insurance, an approach which is motivated by the key understanding that consumer safety and insurance cost control are served by the application of rigorous collision repair standards.

Luckily for those involved, all three provinces have chosen to base their standards on the most commonly accepted OE, private and public norms. I-CAR Gold Class stands as the North American measure of collision repair training and forms the core of most shop certification programs. In a similar fashion, the public insurance provinces are moving on the most commonly accepted equipment standards such as those found in the Canadian Collision Industry Accreditation Program (CCIAP) and its B.C. corollary, the Certified Collision Repair Program (CCR). These are embraced precisely because they are ‘public’–they are non-profit, serving no specific private company, whether OEM or certifier and hence can be trusted to serve the broadest public interest.

The other vital piece of any certification system is compliance. Provincial insurance entities deliver very rigorous auditing and enforcement services. CCIAP/CCR auditing is never conducted by supplier personnel or others with a potential conflict of interest. More importantly, overall costs are kept to a minimum because of their not-for-profit status.

How should Canada proceed given the plethora of collision certification programs coming onto the market and the increasing cost of multiple programs for individual repairers? The answer lies in the experience of the public insurance provinces–develop and deliver a foundation certification program, built and managed in the public interest, and let shops pursue various specific OE programs as their ROI dictates.

What are the advantages of this approach for individual shops? The adoption of a national repair quality standard forces the untrained and unequipped and sometimes fraudulent share of the market to ‘step up or step out’, to the benefit of repairers, insurers and the public. It reduces the cost of declaring competence and professionalism. And it puts the largest and the smallest in the industry on an equal, and world-leading, footing.

Andrew Shepherd is the executive director of I-CAR Canada, a non-profit organization that provides collision repair training and ongoing education. He can be reached at andrew.shepherd@aiacanada.com.

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