How ASE Certification Hurts The Insurance Industry - Automtive Forensics

How ASE Automotive Certification Hurts The Insurance Industry

How ASE Certification Hurts The Insurance IndustryASE Automotive Certifications do negatively impact the insurance industry in various ways.  ASE Automotive Certification has been inadvertently adopted by many insurance carriers as a basis for being able to perform Automotive Forensics.  However, this is like saying a Certified Nurse is qualified to perform Forensic Pathology.  It’s a terrible idea, and the person would rarely be correct.  I am not putting ASE down, as in certain situations their certifications can show a basic level of knowledge of automotive systems.  In my early career I was an ASE Automotive Master Technician, ASE Medium and Heavy Truck Technician and ASE Master Engine Machinist.  I obtained all of these without ever having worked on most of those systems, or without any formalized education.  Later when I obtained my degree in Automotive Technology, and went on to teach as a Professor of Automotive Technology at Mount Wachusett College, I was able to understand why ASE is so inappropriate for Automotive Forensics.  So keep reading to see how ASE negatively impacts insureds.

Would you just assume that anyone looking at vehicles as an expert for the insurance industry would have a good education in modern vehicle technologies?  After all, experts of this caliber are not cheap, and regularly testify as to their opinion in court.  Experts in the specialty areas of Automotive Forensics, Fire Causation, Accident Scene Reconstruction,  or Mechanical Analysis.  Experts analyzing steering systems, engines, air bags, or many other highly complex systems.

The unfortunate truth is that most have just a high school diploma, or a post secondary education in mechanical engineering or law enforcement.  So, to counteract this lack of background and education in vehicles many of these individuals have turned to a misleading marketing technique.  They are claiming that they are ASE Certified Mechanics, so they must know failure analysis techniques of vehicle or trucking systems.  However, this is not the case, and ASE does not certify anyone at the level of failure analysis.  They certifiy mechanics for basic diagnostic and repair techniques of broken vehicle.  To compare back to Forensic Pathology

Many field inspectors have turned to ASE Certification instead of a proper education in modern vehicles, since ASE Certifications are not difficult to obtain by someone with no education or background in vehicles.  Think about this for a second.  If someone with little to no education can obtain an ASE Certification in engines, or transmissions or electrical systems, do you really think the test is hard?  A better question might sound be, is that the type of person you want analyzing a vehicle for you?

ASE testing is nothing more than standardized multiple-choice tests.  Their tests are not designed to certify the knowledge of someone performing Cause and Origin analysis of involved insurance claims.  They test for basic diagnostic and repair techniques.  But, your looking for failure analysis, not someone who can take a test in diagnosis and repair.  It’s like asking a certified nurse to perform Forensic Pathology.  It can’t be done.

Most importantly, ASE Automotive Certifications do not test for the knowledge of Theory of Operation, which is the deep understanding of how a system works and is absolutely necessary for Cause and Origin Analysis or Forensics.  ASE also does not test for failure analysis techniques, such as analyzing engine bearings or thousands of other parts and understanding what caused their damages.

Because the tests do not cover theory of operation or failure analysis techniques they should never be used as the base qualifications for a vehicle expert.  ASE Automotive Certifications are easy to pass, and most  experts working for the insurance industry have become ASE Certified in automotive systems without ever being trained in vehicles, or having worked on them.

So, how does a person actually pass an ASE Certification test without an education or background in vehicle systems.  It’s easy to do.  ASE provides “Cliff Notes”, so that potential test takers can understand the lingo and pass the tests.  There are also dozens of companies that produce sample ASE Tests, so a prospective individual can just read hundreds of questions and answers to prep for the test.  After all, how do you think a huge portion of the Automotive Forensic industry obtained ASE Certification without an education or background in vehicles.

ASE has repeatedly made statements in their brochures about the questions on their tests.  They have stated, “The questions are down-to-earth.  They do not cover book knowledge.  They are not theoretical.”  Anyone with a moderate amount of common sense can understand that it means the tests are easy, you don’t need any technical schooling in modern vehicle technologies, and you don’t need to know theory, which is the acute understanding of how everything works.  Unfortunately, this misleading certification has created thousands of self proclaimed vehicle experts working for the insurance industry on some of their most expensive and complex vehicle claims.  ASE Certification was never designed to validate a cause and origin inspector.  ASE Certification is without a doubt causing more harm than good for the insurance industry in the high stakes world of expensive vehicle claims.

This problem was outlined in a report provided to Congress in 2009 by The National Academy of Sciences.  If you want to read further about that subject read our article entitled, ” Adjusters Be Cautioned:  The Downfalls Of Automotive Forensics.”  Read about why The National Academy of Sciences gave the entire field of forensics a scathing review, and points to weak educations and inappropriate certifications as the culprit.

Employees of Tech Check are never ASE Certified.  They are always college educated in either Automotive or Trucking Technology or Automotive Engineering.  Nothing but the best for our clients.  Tech Check provides automotive failure analysis of cars, trucks and heavy equipment in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania.  We assist insurance companies with automotive failure analysis of  engines, transmissions, braking and antilock systems, steering and suspension systems, electrical systems, safety restraint and air bags, event data recorders (EDR) and hydraulic systems.

Steven Bailey