Filed Under:Claims, Auto

Identifying Exact Vehicle Parts with Latest VIN Technologies

For decades, a range of vehicle identification offerings—such as traditional VIN decode tools and vehicle detail and option information based on manufacturer original equipment guides (OEG)—have been available to support the automotive claims process. The traditional VIN decode reveals the year, make, model, doors, body style, and sometimes even the trim. It can also reflect the transmission, engine, drive and fuel type. This information helps appraisers and estimators accurately identify a vehicle.

From Manual To Automated

Currently, appraisers must also manually select specific options and packages from OEG lists provided in the estimating and total loss application. However, since each vehicle make and model can have more than one OEG list associated with it, and therefore a large selection of options to choose from, the correct options and details can only be selected after a thorough on-site inspection by an appraiser—a process that frequently results in inaccuracies, mistakes and longer cycle times.

In some cases, a car may be equipped with an option that, unlike a windshield or a moon roof, isn’t actually visible to an appraiser. This is where AudaVIN vehicle identification technology comes in. AudaVIN connects VIN and regular production option (RPO) information with the intelligence built into Audatex’s vehicle-specific, option-driven databases to deliver precise estimates and total loss valuations to repair shops and insurers. RPO codes are a combination of three characters—alphanumeric, numeric or a combination of both, signifying specific options or modifications to the base vehicle. These codes indicate the specific configuration of a new vehicle and provide insight into exactly what was built into that vehicle on the production line. Even a vehicle without optional equipment will have RPOs that specify information such as the engine type and exterior paint color.

AudaVIN software brings unprecedented accuracy and time savings to vehicle identification, combining a traditional VIN decode with an RPO query to automatically select the included options and packages from the OEG list in the estimating or total loss application. Essentially, AudaVIN has automated a manual option selection process, making use of sophisticated data mapping and linking tools to align car manufacturer RPO codes to the Audatex-supported OEG information, which is then linked to the Audatex option-driven partial and total loss database.

To trigger an RPO query, the appraiser simply enters the 17-digit VIN number for Audatex to then query the manufacturer’s vehicle RPO database, where RPO codes are identified based on the last six digits of the VIN. These RPO codes—describing standard as well as factory fitted optional equipment—are sent back to Audatex, where they are automatically matched to the relevant options that are to be incorporated into the estimate and total loss valuations.

AudaVIN, Databases and Estimating Accuracy

AudaVIN is now available for GM, Infiniti, Nissan, Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, BMW, Smart, Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche and Volvo vehicles. Once vehicle details for any of these makes have been correctly identified by AudaVIN, an estimator or appraiser uses an estimating application to create a collision damage estimate.

Because AudaVIN integrates directly with AudaNet Xpert Estimating, it has access to the Audatex option-driven database, which resides at the backbone of the estimating application and contains information on millions of vehicle parts and part numbers, including pricing and labor times. Intelligent coding links interconnected parts and then associates those parts with their related labor operations. Required labor operations are included, and duplicate operations are automatically eliminated, resulting in accurate, vehicle-specific labor times.

The Audatex database also offers critical option-conditioned parts information based on manufacturer OEM data. Most of these parts have different part numbers, prices and labor times, which affect the estimate value. Once a damage area is selected, the correct parts are automatically chosen in the damage estimate when the corresponding model options are chosen using AudaVIN, eliminating guesswork on behalf of the estimator. Most importantly, with Audatex Estimating and AudaVIN, repair facilities are able to identify the correct parts the first time.

Total Loss Valuation

For a non-repairable vehicle (total loss), the use of AudaVIN leads to a reduction in total loss corrections, an increase in customer confidence in the claims and inspection process and a smoother settlement process overall. And, with more accurate total loss valuations the first time, additional downstream benefits, such as reduced cycle time and costs, also come into play.

According to Doug Baker, VIN Product Manager for Audatex, recent pilot programs revealed that insurers can make, on average, overpayments of as much as $1,600, and underpayments of up to $400 because of incorrect vehicle options selection.

“AudaVIN directly addresses these inspection issues by providing intelligent vehicle identification and in-depth vehicle specifications that repairers and insurers alike can rely upon,” Baker explains.

With its combination of AudaVIN and option-driven databases, Audatex can successfully decode VINs, gather critical RPO details, and link this valuable data directly to the vehicle parts and valuation data. By investing in the future of automotive claims processing, the company empowers its customers to significantly improve estimating and total loss accuracy and speed; reduce supplements; ensure accurate parts ordering; improve cycle time; and ultimately, drive higher levels of customer satisfaction.

Neal Lowell is Sr. Director, Product Management, Product Development at Audatex U.S., and Tanya Elkins is Director, Autosource at Audatex U.S. For more information, visit


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