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Nova Scotia

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Collision Repair Association of Nova Scotia

 

Compulsory Trade Certification Coming to N.S.

Compulsory Certification for the collision repair trade is nearly a reality in Nova Scotia, reports Lindsay Gates of the Collision Repair Association of Nova Scotia.

According to Gates, the final regulation is now before the Minister of Labour and Workforce Development who will present the regulation to cabinet for approval.

This follows passing through several committees to ensure the coming regulation has undergone proper review.

In the meantime, the provinces Apprenticeship Department has already been working to contact technicians who have been working in the collision industry for many years without certification. To assist these technicians in preparation for writing the exam, the Apprenticeship division has is offering refresher sessions to help them with upgrading their knowledge and skills. These sessions are to help the technician read and understand the terminology used in the testing.

In 2008 there were two session held in the Halifax- Dartmouth area, one in Sydney and a third in New Glasgow . These programs have certified approximately 58 technicians who were already working in the collision industry but now are certified. The success rate for those writing the exam to date has been in the 95% range.

Those who were not successful are being helped with upgrading their weaker skills and they will rewrite at a later date. There has already been a session completed in Kentville of 14 students, in 2009. And there is currently another session underway in Truro with 17 students and another session planned for Halifax- Dartmouth area for the coming fall.

Still, there are many technicians who have not yet applied for the upgrading, or to write the certification exam. They are being urged to take advantage of the programs being offered as the upgrading courses and certification examination are free now and for two years following the formal announcement of the trade becoming a compulsory certified trade.

Technicians who are interested in applying to write the certification examination or who have questions can contact the Apprenticeship and Skills Development division of the Ministry of Labour and Workforce Development at 902-424-5651 or 1-800-494-5651



Interesting Times In Nova Scotia's Collision Industry

The Collision Repair Association of Nova Scotia is a large group of aggressive better-equipped collision shops from all different areas of the province. CRANS was established in 1989 with a goal of improving the collision industry by way of education. To this end we have been involved with the Community Colleges, Junior High Schools, Apprenticeship programs, Provincial/National Skills, I-CAR, CCIF and associations like NATA.

State of Collision in Nova Scotia.

2008 has been a good year for our industry since we had lots of snow and ice conditions on weekend or during rush hour creating many small accidents. Naturally we all look for more work and appreciate what nature was doing in our favour.

There was a few down sides to all of the above .

•  Attracting and keeping qualified technicians to do these repairs is still a problem. There are just not enough quality people to fill the need. However with the support of long term, dedicated technicians we are somehow getting the repairs done on schedule.

•  Parts delay is another factor that is affecting our shops, some import dealers only order parts on weekly bases.

•  Some shops are experiencing situations where vehicles are being considered a total loss by the insurers when they could be repaired.

•  The ability of the insurers to direct repairs to shops of their choice, contracts are still creating problems for shops as well as many of their long time customers. CRANS believe very strongly that the vehicle owner should be the one to choose the repair shop.

What Has Changed?

Most large shops are conforming and converting to water base paint and some shops believe the averaged wet material costs have increased well over 10%. The first couple months of using waterbase paint can lead to a reduction in shop productivity because of using slower clearcoats and additional processes thus reducing cars painted per day. Shops that switched had to invest for extra equipment such
as blowers, paint guns, fans, special gunwash units, and larger compressors.

Smaller shops have been less inclined to change because of the added costs of above plus they may have to purchase an air makeup unit or new booth.

On the positive, water base has less odour, better color match, a decrease in thinner waste lends a hand to making a greener environment for future generations.

Customers should recognize these industry leaders and understand that there may need additional costs to be green.

Forecast for the Future.

The Collision Industry in Nova Scotia definitely has our eyes on the future. We are looking forward to all challenges that change the construction and design of the automobile. We embrace change that improves the environment and above all we look forward to another winter in 2009 with lots and lots of snow.

Lindsay Gates
Executive Director of CRANS
Collision Repair Association of Nova Scotia


Repairer/insurer agreement emphasizes service and quality, not discounted rates

Integrity Collision Network has signed a new partnership agreement with Johnson/Unifund Assurance. Negotiations with Wayne Blair, Atlantic Region auto appraisal supervisor for Johnson/Unifund, are said to have focused on customer service and quality of repair rather than being concerned with labor rates and material costs.

Integrity Collision Network (ICN) consists of six Nova Scotia collision centers who have created their own marketing and purchasing group.

In a prepared statement, ICN and Johnson/Unifund note that building trust and closing gaps in the industry relationship is of paramount importance to both organizations. "Forward thinking and flexibility are the keys to developing a more human than monetary approach to relationship building. Our shared vision for the future will undoubtedly provide an uncompromising service to our shared customers."

The two organizations are pleased with the new agreement and look forward to a relationship based on trust and mutual respect.

ICN's purpose is to collectively market its membership to customers, including insurance companies, in a fair and ethical manner. The group includes Carroll's Collision, The Coachworks Incorporated, Keizer's Collision, MacPhee Collision, O'Regan's Collision and Wolf Collision. All serve the Halifax region.

(see headlines)


Collision Associates Repair Network Hosts Customer Service Workshop

Over 30 attendants were present at a recent 2-day workshop presented by the Collision Associates repairer network in Halifax. The workshop, which focused on sales and consumer behavior was led by Scott Wheeler, a 20+ year veteran in the collision repair industry from Minnesota. Scott spent years as a shop owner, and in the Marketing Dept of ABBRA, and now works as a BDM with Akzo Nobel.

Specifically Scott addressed the issues of the difficulties in changing traffic patterns to today's collision centers, "the closing ratio must be higher given that it can take months and years for other marketing initiatives to direct more traffic to a shop.

Scott spoke passionately about his experiences in the collision repair industry and his learning by consulting with many shops throughout the USA. According to Scott, you have to think creatively "don't tell me an idea won't work unless you can propose a better way" This type of statement set the tone for a very informative, innovative and unprecedented session.

Collision Associates partners and front line staff and managers participated in breakout sessions with jobbers. Shops learned that it is about "what you do beyond fixing the car that really counts and that creates a truly memorable experience for the client" Participants teamed up to create new ways of presenting to the consumer, focusing on education to increase closing ratios. Developing strategies to gain commitment form customers was also a key focus. Scott Wheeler also spent half a day explaining the
benefits of tracking customer satisfaction through and independent Research Company and how to use the report as a key marketing tool.

"The training was a tremendous success says terry Hill", of The Coachworks Limited, a Collision Associates partner - "Scott provided many ideas that will improve my business"

Collision Associates is a repair network comprised of independent and dealer collision centers committed to business development and customer satisfaction.

 

Insurance Executive Speaks Out On Nova Scotia Automobile Insurance

TORONTO, Oct. 29 /CNW/ - "We are shocked and deeply offended by the punitive insurance legislation passed by the Government of Nova Scotia", said George Cooke, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company. "I strongly urge the Premier not to proclaim this Bill, start over and get it right."

"The government has ordered 20% reductions in automobile insurance premiums, effective November 1, 2003, and extended its price freeze to November, 2004." Mr. Cooke continued to explain: "Nova Scotians deserve rate relief, but that can only be realized if compensation levels - which are set by the government and over which the industry has no control - are reduced appropriately."

A report written by a government-appointed actuary, and shared with industry, concludes that the amendments to the auto insurance product contained in Bill 1 will not result in cost savings (a range of +3.1% to -4.6%). This is a far cry from the 20% represented by government. Interestingly, this report has not yet been made public.

The reforms in Bill 1 will not reduce costs by 20%. Assuming there are any insurers left in Nova Scotia a year from now when the freeze is lifted, prices will again rise 20-35% because legitimate cost reform has not been introduced.

"Furthermore," continued Mr. Cooke, "the government has introduced non-withdrawal clauses which purport to prevent companies currently operating in Nova Scotia from modifying business practices in response to changing environmental factors - one of which is this legislation."

Cooke continued to explain that The Dominion is 100% Canadian-owned and its parent company is publicly traded. "We have a duty to our shareholders to invest their capital responsibly. These shareholders are members of pension funds, retirees and families who rely on our prudent fiscal management."

"The government of Nova Scotia is telling us that, in order to continue doing business in that province, we must knowingly invest our shareholders capital at a certain substantial loss. This is simply unacceptable."

Mr. Cooke emphasized that the industry had been in discussion with the government regarding appropriate ways to address rate inflation in the province. "We were astonished to learn that the Bill passed Third Reading in the house hours after we were assured that our concerns would be addressed." The Dominion has been operating across Canada since 1887, and is committed to maintaining quality service for all policyholders. However, Mr. Cooke explained that market exigencies in Nova Scotia are unprecedented. "We
have informed our staff and business partners that we will stop writing new automobile business in Nova Scotia. In doing so, we will comply with the provisions in Bill 1 while continuing to consider all options. We will continue to fully satisfy commitments to current policyholders, employees and business partners," said Mr. Cooke.

Nova Scotia Auto Reform Backgrounder

In May 2003, Bill 45 amending the Insurance Act is introduced in the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly freezing rates retroactively, including rates that have already gone through the government review process. A legal opinion questioning the legal validity of Bill 45 is obtained from the prominent Atlantic law firm of McInnes Cooper and is provided to government. Bill 45 is passed by government on May 22, 2003.

That same month, the Utility Rate and Review Board (UARB) releases its findings pursuant to a government commissioned review of auto insurance premiums in Nova Scotia. Using independent actuarial analysis, the UARB concludes average premiums in Nova Scotia are not excessive in light of rising claim costs.

On June 25, 2003 Minister Russell holds a press conference announcing the government plan to reduce rates by 20% and releases its report "Reducing Rates: A Plan That Works". During the press conference, the Minister makes it clear that premium reductions would be achieved by eliminating pain and suffering awards for minor injuries. George L. Cooke, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Dominion Of Canada General Insurance Company provides comments to media that commensurate reductions in claims costs are necessary to produce the government's promised 20% reduction in rates.

In a July 2, 2003 letter to Minister Russell, Mr. Cooke emphasises the need for rates and claims costs to be considered in tandem, and encourages an open dialogue with government to achieve a product reform that will work for Nova Scotians. Minister Russell's July 9th reply to Mr. Cooke advises that government has engaged an independent actuary to examine the impact of the legislation and confirms its commitment to a collaborative dialogue.

Bill 1 is introduced for first reading September 26, 2003. The draft Bill provides for an across-the-board 20% rate roll back from rates already frozen as of May 2003. The Bill also includes a cap on minor injury claims that is similar to legislation introduced in New Brunswick.

The Liberal Opposition Party refuses to support the threshold on minor
injury claims as contained in Bill 1.

On September 30, 2003, a task force report to the Atlantic Premiers is made public. "The Atlantic Canada insurance harmonization task force report to the Atlantic Premiers" concludes that the core problem of rising premiums is product design and rising bodily injury costs, and the solution is to balance acceptable claims compensation restrictions with affordable rates. The task force also concludes that a competitive private delivery system and not a monopoly supplier better serve the needs of consumers.

Bill 1 is sent to the Law Amendments Committee. The Dominion of Canada appears before the Committee and engages in discussion with government. The Dominion provides evidence and independent actuarial analysis to demonstrate the financial impact of the Bill. Dominion demonstrates the need for a fair and individualized application of rate reduction and the need to retain the claims costs measures introduced in the Bill as necessary to achieve the government's rate reduction promises. The Dominion encourages the Nova Scotia Government to continue with the dialogue and commends the Atlantic Canada task
force report. Throughout these discussions, the government confirms its understanding of the issues and indicates it continues to work on a solution.

October 21, 2003 a revised Bill 1, as amended by the Law Amendments Committee, is introduced. The amendments significantly erode the threshold for injury claims above the cap. The report of the independent actuary retained by government estimates the amended threshold reduces the claims costs savings to 3%, far short of the 20% needed for government promised 20% reduction. No amendments are made to deal with the application of the rate reduction. The insurance industry advises government that a forced 20% price reduction and an 18 month freeze combined with no cost savings is unworkable.
On October 28, 2003 the Nova Scotia Government announced that Bill 1 had received Third Reading.

 

 

June 2002

Nova Scotia's Collision Repair Association (CRANS) has just held their annual meeting at the Sheraton Hotel in Halifax featuring a new constitution and a new executive. We have a new web site at www.crans.ca and have just released the results of an apprenticeship survey. The recent Skills Nova Scotia held at NSCC Akerley College in Dartmouth was a big success for our industry and over $4000 of prizes, mostly tools was raised for students. Thanks to our generous sponsors: 3M Canada, BASF, CARQUEST, CMAX, Dupont, Eastern Enviromental, Fiberglass-Evercoat, Norton Canada, PPG Canada, Sherwin Williams, Uni-Select and Unitool.

We are also working on issues such as the rising cost of materials study
and the issue of salvage vehicles in this province. We are also working on
our Youth at Risk program For more information, please call Brian Slaunwhite at CRANS at (902) 453-5968 or Lindsay Gates (902) 876-2591