The Canadian Collision Accreditation Program continues to gain momentum as the industry transitions toward a post-pandemic landscape.
While the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 had profound effects on the global economy, including right here in Canada, it also provided an opportunity for many industries and businesses to establish new practices, revaluate existing ones and forge ahead with plans for a post-pandemic landscape.
In the collision repair space, one of the biggest trends we’ve seen over the last few years has been the movement toward establishing accreditation and certification as it relates to repair standards.
While the OEMs have been a major influence in pushing this forward, establishing a benchmark for repair standards marks a win-win for everyone, not only the auto manufacturers but also the collision repair centres, insurers and ultimately, the customers—whose vehicles are the ones being repaired.
Since 2016, the Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA Canada), has actively pursued such a repair standard through its Canadian Collision Industry Accreditation Program (CCIAP).
This program focuses on essentially three elements—training, business practices and tools.
As part of the training, AIA administered I-CAR certification in Canada is seen as an essential step to shops achieving accreditation status via I-CAR Gold Class Certification.
With lockdown measures enforced across much of Canada and collision shops experiencing a decline in business as a result, many took advantage of virtual training programs to train their technicians in preparation for becoming accredited repair facilities.
While the pandemic did impact CCIAP, as AIA Canada President JF Champagne acknowledges, progress has still been made over the last 12-18 months.
A big step has been gaining the support of the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) for the program, and in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, government-run insurers have clearly seen the benefit of CCIAP (at the time of writing AIA was also forging ahead with plans to bring something similar to British Columbia).
While plans are afoot to resume CCIAP audits of shops that are already accredited this fall, as well as reviewing those locations that are looking to achieve accreditation status, Champagne says that there are some challenges facing the industry.
A big one is access to repair information, which not only impacts collision repairers but mechanical shops as well.
AIA has, and will continue in its efforts to advocate fair and standardized access for information across the automotive service industry—something which is gaining awareness and is necessary, given the increasing complexity of vehicles and the technology within them.
AIA is also working with the Ontario government to help reduce insurance premiums in the province, which are some of the highest in Canada.
“We see CCIAP and a mandatory accreditation process for collision shops as a significant solution in facilitating a long-term reduction in premiums,” says Champagne.
Pleased with progress
Despite the disruption caused by the pandemic to the collision industry and some of the initiatives that have been put in place over the last few years, Champagne says he’s very pleased with the progress being made regarding awareness and understanding of the issues facing the collision and automotive aftermarket industries.
Additionally, through ongoing discussions with decision-makers at both the provincial and federal level, those issues and initiatives like CCIAP which support the industry, are becoming increasingly recognized as tantamount to the future success of the automotive service sector and the wider economy.