Continuing the Data Debate

This second of a two-part series offers additional perspectives on CCC’s switch to its Secure Share Network.

In the May-June issue, AutoInc. conducted a Q&A with CCC Information Services about its newly launched Secure Share Network, a significant change in terms of how shops using CCC’s estimating system can share estimate information. Readers of this article suggested some follow-up questions, and we’ve also gathered some perspectives from others on what Secure Share might mean for the industry.

Secure Share went live in early April, although, as explained below, shops and those who receive estimate data from shops have another year before the current method they use to exchange data will end.

Under the current method, a CCC ONE user can transfer the data from an estimate – to a shop-management system, a CSI provider, a rental car company, etc. – using a standardized Estimate Management Standard (EMS) file. In many cases, those third parties have – with a shop’s permission – placed a “data pump” on the shop’s server to automatically pull the EMS files the shop has agreed to share.

CCC’s Secure Share changes that arrangement in several key ways. First, it will transfer the data using a Business Message Suite (BMS) file, largely viewed as a positive change. The industry-developed BMS standard gives users more control over which portions of an estimate are transferred. It can limit a parts vendor’s access, for example, to only the portions of the estimate needed to accurately fill the parts order, rather than also including, as the EMS file does, information about the vehicle owner.

But CCC also will require that any transfer of data from the shop’s CCC estimating system – to the shop’s management, for example, or an outside vendor – go through the Secure Share Network. CCC refers to these other vendors or systems that are set up to receive estimate data from a shop as “applications.”

CCC ONE users already can access Secure Share through the CCC ONE “configure” menu; from there, shops are presented with a list of registered applications and can choose those with which they wish to share estimate data. CCC said that, as of April, more than 30 application providers have registered, though it declined to provide a list.

CCC also has said that as of April 2018, CCC ONE users will no longer have the capability of exporting an EMS file, and all BMS file transfers from CCC ONE will have to go through the Secure Share Network.

For shops, that means that by next April, they will need to ensure that any application with which they want to share estimate data has completed the CCC approval process to be part of the Secure Share Network. They will no longer be able to rely on vendor data pumps to make the estimate data transfers – although Secure Share does allow the user to set up automatic transfers.

In addition to being approved by CCC and building the necessary code to accept BMS files, the third-party applications also will be required to pay a 50-cent per-work-file fee to CCC when they receive a shop’s estimate data.

Some vendors have called CCC’s April 2018 cutoff for use of EMS files onerous, arbitrary or unnecessary. But CCC points out that many in the industry – including ASA – have called for a shift to BMS because of its added privacy and security benefits. CCC said that, given it announced the change last fall, vendors aren’t being given short notice of the 2018 deadline.

“By that time, application providers will have had 18 months to prepare their applications to [receive] BMS from CCC Secure Share,” CCC argues. “We believe this is ample time for those interested in moving to a more secure and efficient platform for receiving data.”

Will all of that impact a shop’s ability to share estimate data with insurance companies? Will insurers have to be equipped to receive BMS files? CCC says no.

“The proprietary interfaces we have in place with insurers’ claim systems will remain as is, so there should be no impact on a shop’s ability to share data with insurance companies,” CCC wrote in a statement to AutoInc. “We already use the BMS format for some of our [insurance company] clients, and others use a custom file format designed for their unique needs.”

But shops and vendors have expressed a variety of concerns about the changes the use of CCC Secure Share will mean for them, some of which CCC addressed in the previous AutoInc. article (see “Share and Share Alike” at autoinc.org).

Speaking as part of a panel discussion at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) in April, Brett Bailey of A&B CARSTAR in Kansas City, Mo., said his company currently shares data from each estimate with as many as 11 third-parties, such as a rental car provider, a CSI provider, a shop management system, a paint mixing system, etc. He’s concerned that not all those third parties will decide, given the added costs, to become CCC-approved Secure Share “applications.”

Some vendors on the CIC panel cited concerns about elements of the CCC agreement they are required to sign, such as those allowing CCC to deny them approval or to end their Secure Share access at any time. That’s troubling, they said, particularly if they are competing with a CCC product, such as those offering parts-locating or customer follow-up services.

CCC responded to this concern in a written statement. “CCC has no intention or desire to restrict application providers from registering their application in the CCC Secure Share Marketplace,” the company wrote. “The objective of CCC Secure Share is to secure our customers’ data and, as requested by the major industry associations like ASA, ensure that repairers have the ability to send only the data that is required by the receiving application and know exactly who that data was transmitted to.”

Shop owner Bailey doesn’t argue that some shops and vendors may see the launch of Secure Share as a positive change. But he said that part of his frustration on behalf of those who don’t are the limits he sees on many shops’ ability to convey their dissatisfaction by choosing a different estimating system.

Even though he operates all three major estimating systems at his shops, for example, he said insurer mandates limit his choice of which estimating system he uses on all but about 20 percent of the 1,000 cars his company repairs each month. That’s why he believes more insurers need to follow the lead of State Farm and Allstate by accepting estimates from any of the Big Three information providers.

“An open platform is the answer,” Bailey said. “It creates competitiveness in the marketplace.”

CCC provides written responses to CIC task force

The Collision Industry Conference (CIC) voted this past January to establish a new task force related to “data exchange.” The move came largely in response to CCC’s announcement last fall of its plans for its Secure Share Network.

The task force held its first panel discussion at CIC in Pittsburg, Pa., in April. Although CCC declined an invitation to participate on the panel, a number of panelists and CIC attendees – including representatives of ASA – noted that they are continuing to meet with CCC to discuss Secure Share.

Click here for the CCC four-page response to questions submitted to the company from the CIC task force.

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