Should Your Technician Have
By Levy Joffrion
Shop owners agree it’s a “good thing.” But when it comes to ponying up for it,
that can be a challenge. Some do, some don’t.
Should your technician have tool insurance?
And we wager your tech agrees.
Question is: Who’s going to pay for it?
Virtually all of the shop owners AutoInc. has talked to about the subject are for it. Some collision and mechanical shops provide tool insurance as a benefit, paying all of the cost. Some pay part of the cost and give technicians the option to pay the remainder. But many shops have no provision for tool insurance, although their techs may be working under the delusion that they do. Do the technicians who work in those shops that have no provision for tool insurance pay for their own? Is the cost prohibitive?
For the answers to those questions, AutoInc. polled some industry shop owners to find out what they offered.
Some shop owners have a rider to their company’s insurance policy that provides up to a certain coverage amount for each technician’s tools. For example, Pat Grace of Tunxis Service Center LLC, Unionville, Conn., said his shop’s rider covers up to $50,000 for a technician’s tools.
Eddie Ehlert, owner of ToyOnly Ltd. and MazdOnly Ltd., Chamblee, Ga., said: “We have a rider on our policy with Zurich/Universal Underwriters wherein the company covers it up to a limit of $75,000. I have been purchasing this additional rider since 1990.”
Mike East, Zurich’s vice president for Underwriting in its aftermarket business unit, says most shop owners – like Grace and Ehlert – elect to pay for extra coverage. Zurich, which is a longtime ASA-sponsored benefit provider, provides coverage for employee tools and equipment under its Unicover policy – which it offers to ASA shops.
Brian Manley, an automotive instructor at Smoky Hill High School in Aurora, Colo., and a longtime AutoInc. columnist (Tech to Tech), is a firm believer in technicians having tool insurance, even if they have to pay for it themselves. Says Manley: “I share with my students who are buying tools what I discovered as a full-time technician: Ask your employer if his or her insurance covers your tools, and if they don’t, get a policy that will.
“When I was a tech, my last two employers had coverage for my tools, and so I took pictures of each open drawer and created an inventory.
“My co-teacher, Scott Seperich, was a service manager for General Motors and Subaru dealerships that did not have insurance coverage for techs’ personal tools. So the techs ran chains through the drawer handles and chained them to something solid, like a post. That wouldn’t work on my toolbox because there are no loops for the box’s handles, just pulls. And that doesn’t negate the need for tool insurance, because a tech can easily invest $50,000 or more in tools, which make possible his or her livelihood. Without those tools, a tech may not be able to provide for himself or his family.”
Another ASA member, Dalphine Hogg of Hogg’s Automotive Training Academy Inc., Dallas, believes that technician tools do need to be insured due to many factors. She says, “Technicians’ tools get lost, stolen, damaged or old and need to be replaced with an updated tool. I think technicians should be given the option to purchase tool insurance when they are hired.”
However, due to the additional cost to technicians, they may not always choose to purchase the insurance, although it would be a wise choice.
James S. “Jim” Bradanini, a principal in Pro-Tech Insurance, a Connecticut firm, strongly believes technicians should have tool insurance, even if they have to pay for it themselves.
Bradanini estimates only 14 percent of shops offer some measure of tool insurance and that 99 percent of technicians have no tool insurance, so technicians need to step up to the plate and buy coverage themselves. He says that’s why Pro-Tech was created, to provide tool insurance at an affordable price to technicians.
In summary, shops thinking about providing tool insurance as a benefit to its technicians should do some research. As East points out, some policies include it, some do not. He suggests that a shop owner talk to his or her agent. Find out which insurance companies are providing such coverage and compare each plan’s options before making a decision as to what program fits your shop’s needs best.
Likewise, technicians should do some research to find out what’s offered before making a decision. A technician should first ask his or her employer if the shop’s insurance covers the technician’s tools. If not, technicians might want to check with their home insurance agents to see about coverage for their tools.
Since tools are a necessary and valuable component to servicing and repairing cars, technicians must assess and evaluate their worth and decide the best route to take to insure them. Besides doing your research, talk to other technicians and even shop owners to make the most informed decision possible.
Want to Discuss
Tool Insurance Some More?
Be sure to visit ASA’s Communities section to weigh in on your perspective. See the forum titled “Tool Insurance” under “Member-Shops Issues.” To log in:
1. Enter your personalized username. Your username is your firstnamelastname with no space. Example: ronnagy.
2. Enter your password. Your password is your six-digit member number. This can be found on your AutoInc. mailing label right above the recipient’s name. Once logged in, users can change their passwords.