Prior to joining the automotive collision industry, I worked as an independent motorcycle appraiser. Be sure to understand, an appraiser, not an motorcycle insurance adjuster - huge difference. At any rate, most shops shy away from insurance work because of the stringent requirements placed on the shops to get the insurance business. I agree 100% with the previous responses, they are correct but, only scraping the top of the issue. I would be happy to give you more detail in conversation but, here are some basics:
1. Know the policies of the insurance companies you want to serve - critical key! insurance carriers have different criterian for coverage and what they will pay for repair. For example, some companies will only cover a certain (%) of aftermarket parts based on the current market (stock) value in current, regional market pricing. And, it also depends on the degree of coverage the motorcycle owner is paying for.
2. Make sure that you meet all shop and technical requirements of the insurance carrier. This has become a major issue for independent shops. You need certifications in a multitude of areas - not just brand certs, but, OSHA and EPA certs as well. While this has been somewhat minimized, no insurance company wants to be associated with a shop that isn't up to speed on the latest regulations for both safety and the environment. State how you will stay up on these types of training for techs and office staff. Also, demonstrate your shop's capabilities - do you have a painter that is skilled with various products? Do you have a certified engine tech on staff? Can you handle any problem based on the professional training/or certification of your staff? If so, what will you specifically do fo the insurance company?
3. Have a solid estimating system. As mentioned in a previous post, this is equally as important to win the business of an insurance company. Let's face it, you will push for top dollar and the insurance company is pushing for bottom dollar. Having a good estimating system will meet somewhere in the middle. Second, if you should go beyond the initial estimate, you have documented proof. Remember, repair orders and repair cycle times, labor and parts cost are some of the areas that insurance companies focus on.
4, Have a solid business plan for each insurance company. Present a business plan that clearly conveys how your shop will meet or exceed the expectations of the insurance company and their customers. Reveal you abilitiy to get parts, technical training for staff, OHSA and EPA policies for a safe work environment, repair cycle time processes, customer management systems and CSI (customer satisfaction index) goals.
5. Know your market. Don't go to an insurance company with just a good idea...go with an compelling arugement with facts and data to prove that your are the shop of choice for your region.
6. Offer unique value propositions. Are you the only shop in town willing to go through the necessary requirements to win their business? How are you competing with your competition - faster repair cycles, more parts offerings?, Do you have strong customer life cycles? Do you have a deep history with your customer base? When insurance companies see your committment, your willingness to comply, it will open the door for meaningful talks with them.
7. Know your insurance adjusters. In settlement cases, I have crushed adjusters just because they don't really know anything about motorcycles - specifically custom bikes. They have been trained to deal with stock bikes with some insight into typical aftermarket parts - that are documented and appraised. But, more often than not, you will get bikes that are off the charts; custom paint, engine mods, custom frames and tins, to name a few. Make your decision early on as to whether or not you want to venture into that world. As a former appraiser, I haven't lost a case but, it is really dicey.
Well, two cents for my thoughts, if you want more insight or what to talk more - seed me a note and we will connect.