By Andrew Shepherd
Ottawa, Ontario -- December 13, 2013 -- Whatever your thoughts about global warming, there is no doubt that extreme weather events have become much more common in recent years. Environment Canada reports that 2013 was the second highest year on record for hail storms. Western Canada saw 371 severe weather events during the year.
After the storms subside, support personnel see a deluge of a different kind--a massive influx of insurance claims and long wait lines at collision repair facilities. Industry insiders also talk about an influx of â€œstorm chasersâ€ â€“ hail repair companies that are often transitory.
This is becoming a serious issue for the collision repair industry as even cosmetic repairs now involve removing bumpers, doors and panels, reconfiguring restraint systems and management of corrosion protection, sensing technologies, etc. In 2013 Alberta Autobody Trades Officers made a special point of enforcing laws pertaining to the use of skilled trades for any repair involving the removal or adjustment of panels.
In Fall 2013, a group of industry stakeholders met to improve the professionalism of PDR. Wawanesa Insurance, Co-operators Insurance, Shield Autobody and Southgate Volkswagen Collision of Edmonton and PDR Canada, a major hail repair company, met with Alberta Trades and I-CAR Canada to explore the skills requirements of PDR technicians. David Rowley, Supervisor, Appraisers at Wawanesa, noted that â€œWe ended up focusing on 13 courses, or about 50 hours of training. We certainly feel that this could form a minimum requirement with todayâ€™s complex vehicles, but we understand that much more industry consultation is going to happen.â€
Domenic Serra, President and CEO of PDR Canada, is fully supportive. â€œWe operate across Canada, dealing with every weather condition Canada has to offer â€“ we need to ensure our staff is trained as thoroughly as possible,â€ he says. â€œAnd frankly the consumer and the insurer are going to be better protected if there is some sort of skills requirement for PDR companies.â€
Serra has already committed his staff to the training path developed by the group.
Jeff Hicks, owner of Shield Autobody in Edmonton, has also encouraged all of his staff to participate in I-CAR training. â€œWeâ€™re going to advise the other insurers in our area â€“ we all want safe, efficient repairs for our customers and weâ€™re proud that weâ€™ve developed a solution with I-CAR Canadaâ€ says Hicks. â€œThis is a great step forward for the industry.â€