Body shops not to blame for ICBC’s financial issues: ARA

The Automotive Retailers Association is fighting back against accusations levelled against them

Posted by Automotive Retailers Association on Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The president of the B.C. Automotive Retailers Association says his industry refuses to be the scapegoat for the ongoing financial issues within ICBC.

“Our concern is that our industry might be used as a scapegoat, quite frankly, for the escalating costs of ICBC,” says Ken McCormack, president and CEO of the Automotive Retailers Association. “We are not the problem, but we do want to be part of the solution.”

As president of B.C.’s aftermarket automotive repair business, he is calling on the government and ICBC to cut repair costs without sacrificing safety through a number of recommended measures.

The ARA participated in a third-party review of automotive repair, recovery and recycling.

Included in the recommendations are changes to ICBC’s salvage procurement policies to enable access to serviceable ‘like new’ used parts for vehicle repairs.

McCormack says this could dramatically cut repair costs without sacrificing quality or safety.

Responding to news that ICBC has incurred a $1.3 billion deficit, he acknowledges government claims that collision repair costs have risen 30 per cent over the past two years, but contends it is not the fault of the repair industry.

“We have certainly seen a significant increase in the value of those repairs,” notes McCormack, but he says it is not the body shops that are escalating those costs.

“The body shops in this province have little to no pull whatsoever on those costs. Vehicles are getting more expensive. While those costs have increased by 30 per cent, I can assure you it is not the body shops reaping the benefits.”

Related: ICBC in ‘financial dumpster fire’: minister

He says motorists are purchasing more expensive and technologically-advanced vehicles and the parts to repair these vehicles are more expensive.

“The standards and methodology for repairs and replacement of parts for damaged vehicles have been set by manufacturers. Use of high-strength steel and aluminium as well as technology including lane departure warning, automatic braking and adaptive cruise control which continually monitors and, in some cases, controls the vehicle, add to repair costs that collision shops have no control over,” he adds.

The ARA states that collision shops have had to invest heavily in equipment and training to be able to keep up with these technological advances.

“There is a need to find economies outside of the repair shops. They already have low profits and the collision sector has had no substantial increase for the past eight years and it’s been longer than that for rate increases in other sectors including glass, towing and salvage,” McCormack says.

Among other recommendations advanced by the ARA is increased support for industry-led technician certification programs designed to save ICBC money through efficiency and improved cycle times.

“We want to work with ICBC and the government to find solutions that will help ICBC reduce its financial burdens while improving vehicle service availability and quality,” McCormack says.

“We think the economies are there to reduce ICBC’s costs and ensure the future viability and sustainability of our automotive-service sector. ICBC’s policyholders are our customers as well.”

RELATED: ICBC projects deficit of $1.3 billion this year

RELATED: ICBC board members replaced before NDP overhaul

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@carmenweld
carmen.weld@bpdigital.ca

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