Service Provider tips to minimize damage claims

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and when it comes to towing damage claims, a picture can SAVE you a thousand or more dollars. We encourage our Partners to be proactive during the course of a service, by documenting any damage that is noticed before they touch or move the vehicle.

Damage claims are an expensive aspect of the auto industry according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. In 2019 an average property damage claim was $4,525.

A towing damage claim arises when a customer makes a report that their vehicle was damaged during a towing and roadside assistance service. A claim can be as simple as a damaged weatherstrip from a lockout service, a dented bumper from loading or unloading the vehicle during a towing job, or a more substantial claim, such as a damaged transmission as a result of an incorrect towing method.

However, not all claims are valid, and HONK is doing everything we can to educate and assist our Service Provider Partners in protecting themselves in order to avoid paying out on potentially fraudulent or excessive claims.

The FBI reports the total cost of insurance fraud is estimated to be more than $40 billion per year. Luckily, the best way for HONK Partners to protect themselves from unwarranted damage claims involves something we all carry around with us in 2020; a smartphone. Capturing photo or video proof of each and every service has become a critical tool for Service Providers looking to protect their businesses from costly and potentially fraudulent damage claims.

We know tow professionals already have to work incredibly fast, and at times, under difficult circumstances to complete towing and roadside assistance jobs. Adding one more step to use a smartphone might sound like an unnecessary hassle, but taking those extra thirty seconds to take a “before service” photo could possibly save a business thousands of dollars in the long run.

Typically, the Service Providers who documents exceptionally well will take photos of the four corners of a vehicle – before & after a service. And, depending on the job, they will take additional photos when they are on scene to give more context to the situation at hand.

For example, if someone is completing a tow where a vehicle needs to be winched, they’ll take photos of where the tow hooks were placed to avoid claims of tie rod damage. Or when a Service Provider is completing a lockout service, they’ll take photos immediately after completion to show proof that no damage was done with the tools utilized during a service. When jump-starting a vehicle, some Providers proactively take photos showing that the jump box cables are properly connected to the battery to show proof that no electrical system damage will occur as a result of that jump-start.

Another best practice for Service Providers to protect themselves is to do a quick walk around the vehicle and immediately documenting any prior visible damage either with photos or through a liability waiver signed by the customer. Although pictures are always ideal, having a customer’s signature acknowledging pre-existing damage, protects themselves and their business from any false prior damage being claimed related to the service.

But what happens when damage DOES occur as a result of a service? Having thorough documentation of any noticeable damage prior to work being done on the vehicle is ideal. This documentation will be valuable since it serves as evidence should a damage claim be made against the Service Provider or their insurance company after the fact. It’s important for an insurance company to have all the facts and evidence regarding a damage claim so they can accurately investigate and resolve the claim. And more importantly, so they can pay what is owed, and nothing more.

At HONK, once notified of a claim, we take the time to thoroughly investigate each damage claim and collect all pertinent information. We’ll reach out to the Service Provider immediately after receiving the first report of damage. We obtain supporting information from both the motorist/customer and the Service Provider. This helps us determine if our Partner was responsible for the damage and if a claim is valid.

Gathering thorough documentation during the roadside service is vital for Service Provider Partners to defend themselves against excessive or fraudulent damage claims. There have been instances where our Service Provider Partners have had claims against them withdrawn due to the detailed support they provided proving the damage was not as a result of their roadside services.

In some cases, damages will accidentally happen as a result of their service, and HONK will work closely with the Service Provider to review such claims. HONK advocates for their Partners and provides assistance for them to resolve their claim.

Roadside service damage claims are part of the towing industry. And while they may be inevitable over the course of thousands of jobs, that one quick additional step of taking a few photos can help protect you, your operators, and ultimately, your business.