Former AMBRA chairman Jeff Williams wrote the following after the Capricorn collision repair conference held in Melbourne 10th August after some repairers suggested that insurers should set repair standards.

What an excellent event and congratulations must go to Rob Mildenhall and his team for initiating and organising the event and to the sponsors and congratulations to those who attended.

Mike Anderson was inspirational he had the audience well and truly captured.

The message came over loud and clear about the importance to researching correct repair methods before you write the estimate (who would have thought some OE’s would need you to recalibrate wiper arms if being removed ). 

Anderson pushed the importance of maintaining OEM procedures and the need for shops to build a culture within their teams 

Very well-chosen panellists shared their views on today’s industry landscape 

Rex Crowther from Paneltalk New Zealand magazine spoke about how the New Zealand standard was based on structural and non-structural. This is a great move although it can be a grey area as we all have differing opinions on what is structural - we have some insurers who see bolt on radiator supports as structural repairs, so  go figure.

After we all shouted ‘amen’ to Anderson’s pointed message, the discussion moved onto the Australian shop grading standards. I found this very confusing with great support from some manufacturers and more to come, along with support from Capricorn in grabbing the opportunity and leading the way for their members. 

The industry says it is looking to advance its cause to repair cars to the correct standard, yet some believed a need for insurers to advance the standard to be adopted. We know insurers do have their own and repairers seem to adopt quickly because the ‘insurer said’. It must be pointed out that these standards were developed by the insurers for their own cause. Some to be seen as good corporate citizens allowing their chosen repairers extra bonus points to achieve a final sign off , others requesting tooling based on yesteryear thinking with no bases for mandatory training 

The  AMBRA shop grading document some believe is a way to raise your hourly rate but as the business owners who were representing the industry on the panel agreed if you have a verified hourly rate attached to a transparent times guide and are prepared to negotiate with the insurer as per the MVIRI code and current AFCA rulings then the shop grading program does not come into it.

AMBRA shop grading was not designed to be used to be the precursor to a rate validation AMBRA shop grading was developed by the industry for the industry. It allows each facility to choose a category that suits their business model rather than force a facility to spend lots money becoming  a one size fits all. Shop owners can elect a chosen category they have the capabilities to repair.

The time has come for the repair industry to be accountable to itself and allow itself to be judged on an average repair cost and volumes but be judged on repairing vehicles that they have the capabilities using equipment and correct training, applying the OEM repair procedures.

But until the industry moves itself forward takes control of its destiny, insurers will continue to roll out the old chestnut  ‘we need to be competitive so we can’t pay you any more or we will need to increase premiums’.

No, Mr Insurer, you have a duty of care, so you will all play by the same validated grading standard because vehicles will be repaired in the right facility and not just based on a facility giving the best average repair cost or fixed price repairs price.

We as the industry need to implement the standard by which insurers must abide maintaining a healthy competitive industry based on like for like, and not as some suggested let the insurer set the standard. 


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