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Disruptive Trends for 2021

Frank Terlep, Co-Founder and CEO of autotechcelerators, based in the US, looks at how business and technology trends will affect the collision and property and casualty industries.


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Frank Terlep

I have good news and bad news. The good news is 2020 is behind us. The bad news is that 2021 brings several business and technology trends that will continue to challenge and disrupt the collision and property and casualty industries.

In this article, I will share my thoughts on how six business and technology trends will affect the collision and property and casualty industries in 2021 and beyond. The six trends are:

  • COVID-19 changes that are probably permanent
  • Continued rapid implementation of “virtual” claims technologies
  • ADAS technology penetration into Car Parc
  • Vehicle electrification
  • AI (Artificial Intelligence)
  • Consolidation and specialization

COVID Changes That are Probably Permanent

As I write this article in December of 2020, there are at least 40 COVID-19 vaccines in clinical trials worldwide, with two being distributed to more than 1.0 MILLION people so far. Most experts expect that a majority of the US population will be vaccinated by this summer.

While these vaccines will bring back some sense of normalcy, the pandemic has changed the collision industry and property and casualty industries for the foreseeable future.

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One of these changes is the work from home trend. The work from home trends means fewer miles driven as well as changes in traffic and congestion patterns. Work from home also means the continued use of virtual business meetings, virtual meeting tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams and less business travel.

This trend will lead to a reduction in accident claims, collision repairs and lower attendance at industry events such as NADA, SEMA, CIC, and other industry events. Speaking of industry events, future events will be designed as hybrid events offering live and virtual attendance. The COVID-19 pandemic has provided this industry with a glimpse of the future. The future being a reduction of claims due to ADAS systems and technologies.

Another trend I see as being permanent is the COVID driven trend of worker and consumer safety and sanitation protocols. Business and vehicle sanitation processes will remain in place while pickup, delivery, “virtual” claims and other “contactless” processes will become “the norm”.

Continued Rapid Implementation of “Virtual” Claims Technologies

COVID-19 also forced insurance companies to “fast-track” the implementation of multiple technologies. These technologies will change the way claims are handled by insurers and collision repairers.

One technology that will grow quickly is photo-based estimating. While insurers and repairers both agree that this technology does not provide completely accurate results, the consumer wants to use it depending on the vehicle damage. It also reduces costs. Like any technology, photo-based estimating will continue to improve and ultimately become the dominant initial vehicle damage documentation process.

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In addition to photo-based estimating other “virtual” claims processes will grow quickly. The use of video as a tool to communicate additional damage after an initial photo-based damage assessment is one of these new processes. Solutions like Allstate’s “Virtual Assist” platform that is used to request and verify supplements will be picked up by other insurers driving the use of video into more collision repair facilities.

Other virtual claims processes that will grow quickly are digital signatures and digital payments. Digital signatures will become the default way to approve claim payments, repair and supplement approvals and more. Digital payment processes will expand from PayPal, Stripe and Venmo to payments via text and social media platforms.

As more “connected cars” enter the car parc, their telematic systems will generate data to allow insurers and OE’s to offer more insurance coverage based on driving habits. These telematic systems will also change the way the FNOL (first notice of loss) is handled. Connected car telematic systems will begin generating INOI (instant notice of incident) that will direct the INOI to certified repair facilities.

ADAS Technology Penetration into Car Parc

As we start 2021 there are more than 73 Million ADAS equipped vehicles on the roads. These vehicles will be involved in accidents and will continue to change the way the collision industry identifies, inspects and repairs them. The increase of ADAS equipped vehicles will drive the industry to create and implement new repair processes, tools, technologies and training solutions in 2021 and beyond.

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Let’s start with new repair processes. These ADAS equipped vehicles will require repairers to implement better and different processes, tools and technologies to accurately identify ADAS technologies on a damaged vehicle during the repair planning process if they want to decrease supplements and increase the number of required calibrations these ADAS equipped vehicles need.

Speaking of calibrations, the industry can expect more and more calibration equipment solutions to enter the market. Equipment suppliers see the future ADAS car parc and see calibrations to be one of the fastest-growing service items in 2021 and beyond.

I personally believe the industry will also see dramatic growth in calibration centers and mobile calibration providers because, in my opinion, a majority of collision repairers will not perform their own calibrations due to lack of space, improper lighting, the investment required and lack of personnel. The increasing ADAS car parc will also lead to a dramatic increase in the use of repair procedures as well as the formalization of pre-repair ADAS and safety system inspections and post-repair/calibration test drives/system validations.

Vehicle Electrification

If you have not heard, OE manufacturers plan to release more than 400 new EV models by 2025. Last November GM announced it was increasing its EV budget to $27 billion dollars while moving up the release of 30 EVs by 2025 and making Cadillac models 100% electric by 2030.

In addition to GM, VW wants all of their 300 models electrified by 2030, and Ford expects more than 20 EV models by 2025. Combine these trends with new EV manufacturers such as RIVIAN, LUCID, NIO, Polestar and others, and you are looking at an EV tsunami!

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This EV tsunami will require the collision repair industry to implement new repair processes, new safety procedures, as well as new training and education solutions. EV’s will also create new certified repair networks, an increase in parts restrictions, new tool and PPE purchase requirements and, in my opinion, EV focused collision repair facilities.

ICAR and other training and education solution providers will be challenged to quickly create high-quality EV focused solutions to meet the needs of the industry.

AI (Artificial Intelligence)

Another technology that will affect the collision repair and insurance industries in 2021 is one you really can’t see or touch. This technology is Artificial Intelligence, also known as AI. It is my belief AI will affect all aspects of the collision and P&C industries in 2021 and beyond.

Let’s start with the vehicle. Today Artificial Intelligence is already being used in most ADAS systems such as emergency braking, cross-traffic detection, blind-spot monitoring and more. AI is also being used in data collected from vehicles for driver risk assessment and driver monitoring. AI is also being used during photo-based estimating as well a way to improve total loss processes.

2021 and beyond will see Artificial Intelligence be used in all aspects of the industry such as repairer and insurance administrative processes, scanning, diagnostics, estimating, and more…

Consolidation and Specialization

Two other major trends that will continue to disrupt the collision and P&C industries are consolidation and specialization. Today there are about 32,000 collision repair facilities participating in a $38BB dollar industry while more than 90% of the insurance market is dominated by the top 10 insurers. Out of the 32,000 repairers, there are more than 100 MSO’s with less than 3,000 locations capturing approximately $16BB or more than 40% of industry revenue.

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Whether we like it or not, the big will continue to get bigger, franchising, OEM certified repair networks and banner networks will become more attractive because independents will need to become part of something bigger to compete and win.

I also believe specialization will increase in 2021 and beyond because of increasing vehicle complexity and technology. We will see the largest consolidators and other MSO’s designate specific locations as OEM certified or EV certified in certain markets. At the same time, independents will be forced to decide what vehicles they can/want to repair and new car dealers open collision centers or partner with specialists to service their vehicles.

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In addition to the six  major trends outlined above other trends such as OEM Certifications, big data, augmented, and virtual reality will also impact the collision and P&C industries in 2021 and beyond.

Like any other new year, we all will face change and challenges.  Anytime there is change, there is opportunity. As you enter 2021 evaluate these trends and how they will affect your business and how your business can grow and benefit from them by implementing new processes, tool technologies and training.

Remember, if a business is not growing, it is dying. Make 2021 a year your business grows its revenue, its employees, its opportunities and its capabilities!

If you would like to contact Frank, please email him at or visit