“Safety of damage repair is only becoming more important”
“The safety of the repair work performed should be the most important aspect of damage repair,” says Ed Prins, Manager Damage Center Waarborgfonds (part of de Vereende) in conversation with Openclaims CMO and co-founder Lex Orie. “This safety is particularly important in the context of the increasing complexity of cars,” says Prins.
The interview with Ed Prins is the first in a series of conversations that Openclaims will have with stakeholders within the claims and repair industry. This series will hone in on trends and developments within the insurance, fleet, and automotive market. The focus will mainly be on developments that may put pressure on how repairing and settling vehicle damage is currently performed or affect it in some other way. The themes discussed in this interview are: the impact of Covid-19, the increasing complexity of modern vehicles and the introduction of direct claims handling (DSA).
In the spotlight: Ed Prins
Ed Prins has been active within Allianz Nederland for over 24 years and has held various Claims management positions here, ranging from Manager Motor Vehicle Damage, Manager Personal Damage to person responsible for the Topherstel repair network. In addition, during his time at Allianz, Prins has headed several projects focused on sustainability within business operations and improving the customer experience. Since July 2020, Ed Prins has fulfilled the role of Manager Damage Center of the Waarborgfonds Motorverkeer, which is part of de Vereende. Openclaims asked him about his current role within het Waarborgfonds and his views on some hot topics within claims management and damage repair.
Het Waarborgfonds Motorverkeer
Het Waarborgfonds is there for injured parties who have suffered material and/or personal injury caused by a motor vehicle where the driver is liable for the damage caused. A request for compensation can be submitted in the event that the motor vehicle, A: remains unknown, B: is known, but not insured, C: is known, but stolen, D: is insured, but the insurer is bankrupt or E: exempt from insurance obligation (the so-called recognized conscientious objectors).
“As Manager Damage Center of the Waarborgfonds, I deal with the material vehicle damage of injured parties where the perpetrator is unknown, is uninsured or is a recognized conscientious objector. Het Waarborgfonds is best known for hit & run claims. You park your car, go shopping and when you return there is a dent in your car and no note left under the windshield wiper. The perpetrator has driven away! If you are not fully insured and the perpetrator is unknown or uninsured, you can claim that damage from us,” Prins explains.
“In addition, we also act in the event of damage caused by recognized conscientious objectors where parties are unable to reach a mutual agreement. On principle, the recognized conscientious objector does not take out any insurance. It goes further than that. This same group, limited in size, does not take out health insurance policies either. For this group in particular, Het Waarborgfonds issues a certificate of exemption for a fee. This does not relieve the recognized conscientious objectors from the obligation to settle material and/or personal injury caused by them with a motor vehicle with the injured party (parties). That remains their responsibility at all times! If parties cannot reach a mutual agreement, they can call on het Waarborgfonds. We always reassess the circumstances and liability. If the recognized conscientious objector does turn out to be liable for the damage suffered, we will recover the material and/or personal damage from this party. Amazingly, we always manage to recover the full damage. What you see is that a community like this is very strongly interconnected and therefore is able to gather the money to repay het Waarborgfonds. This is actually the ultimate type of mutual insurer,” says Prins laughing.
How has Covid-19 affected the Waarborgfonds?
“We see a market decrease in parking damage, the hit & run damage so to speak. On the other hand, we see a significant increase in damage to road furniture, such as lighting columns, crash barriers, etc. We have discussed the cause of this with many parties. The conclusion is that most damage to road furniture is probably caused by delivery vans and trucks. It is only an assumption, but still a widely supported opinion. The construction, insurance coverage, the size of the delivery and freight traffic, and the average condition of these types of cars are the reason for this opinion. Let me explain the volume of delivery and freight traffic in more detail. Although substantially fewer kilometers were driven overall in 2020, this does not apply to freight traffic (transport continued unabated) and delivery van traffic even increased spectacularly! The increase in the number of kilometers driven by delivery vans can be explained by the massive increase in the number of online purchases.”
“In addition, low margins and low compensation per unit (package) mean that truck drivers and parcel deliverers often feel rushed and will do whatever it takes to meet the expectations of their clients. In that context, I do not rule out the possibility that people sometimes “forget” to report damage to road furniture to the employer/insurer. Incidentally, we don’t get the impression that morality has deteriorated because of Corona. Nevertheless, we continue to invest in fraud detection (data analysis, tools and training), enabling us to increase the chances of catching the perpetrators, which benefits all policy holders in the Netherlands. After all, we work with the money that insurers contribute annually to perform our role as a safety net party in a professional and customer-friendly way.”
From your experience, how do you view the increasing complexity of cars and the impact that this has on damage repair?
“Regardless of whether a car is fully electric or a ‘normal’ car, there is an incredible amount of technology in modern cars. Think specifically of all ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) technology that ensures that the car is increasingly autonomous and therefore safer. The European Parliament will make a number of ADAS systems mandatory in newly designed and newly registered cars. Once this requirement takes effect, these safety systems cannot be switched off. This means that the systems must also work correctly after damage repair. Thorough knowledge of ADAS and the operation and calibration of the ADAS sensors is a must!”
“In terms of knowledge and skills, Dutch body shops are at the forefront of the world together with colleagues in the UK, and the frameworks that high-quality damage repairs must meet are being designed collaboratively with parties such as FOCWA and BOVAG. Damage steering, and in particular with which parties you choose to collaborate, is becoming increasingly important. I think it goes without saying that safeguarding high-quality repair based on factory specifications is paramount.”
How should body shops deal with this?
“Body shops have to ask themselves which brands they still want to repair in case of a complex repair. Given the current complexity of cars, it will be impossible to repair all types. It is certainly impossible for smaller repairers. Whereas previously you could have your car repaired at the shop around the corner, it is now relevant to be referred to a party that has an employee with the proper training and the right equipment in-house. This will therefore lead to a differentiation of rates. It is all about making choices, while maintaining trust in the chain between client, repairer and end user. After all, we are all acting in the best interest of the customer.”
What is the role of het Waarborgfonds in this?
“Our claimants are mainly WAM insurers. With a few exceptions, they have agreements with network repairers. In my previous role I learned, that in those agreements, great importance is attached to high-quality repair. Het Waarborgfonds therefore sees no role for itself to interfere in these agreements.”
How do you view direct claims handling and what is your role in this?
“We are very positive about the introduction of direct claims handling and see multiple benefits for the customers (who are not fully insured) of insurers. This eases the burden on customers. Customers have contact with their own insurer that they have chosen themselves. It also fits better with the wishes and expectations of customers.”
“As the Waarborgfonds, we are not participating as of yet, but the Vereende is. This is because of the special role of het Waarborgfonds. However, this does not alter the fact that our aim is to also link up with direct claims handling in the long term. At the moment, we as Waarborgfonds have two types of claimants. Firstly, the professional claimants, such as insurers, leasing companies, TPA’s and intermediaries. Secondly, the end user, the private individual. Once the Waarborgfonds starts to link up with direct claims settlement, the playing field will change. The number of professional claimants will increase and the number of end customers coming directly to us will decrease. Individuals with a passenger car who are not all-risk insured and who believe that the other party is liable can report the damage directly to their own insurer in the event of direct claim settlement. Speed of action and quality of repair are then very important for giving the customer that good feeling. Speed is mainly at the front of the process. Green light for damage repair must be given fast. The faster you do that, the higher the customer rating.”
“As an insurer you want to be relevant for your customer and completely unburden the customer. I think that direct-writers and online insurers have a slight advantage here compared to intermediary insurers. They are already accustomed to communicating directly with their customers.”
What is the impact for the repair industry?
“Damage repairers also need certainty. There must be a payment guarantee for the repairer. Proper agreements must be made for this in consultation with clients. It’s also about how you entice the customer. You do not have the power to demand. Of course, on the other hand, we know that a financial incentive such as lowering or remitting the deductible helps to entice your customer to use your network of body shops. Direct damage settlement is going to be a game changer. A large part of your services will now be available to all customers and will be more in line with other insurance policies. Your own insurer will now also help you with car damage if you are not fully insured. De Vereende will participate starting July 1, 2021, and we are already well on our way to arranging everything properly. We will be ready to start on July 1!”