Tracking the damage

When damage occurs to the vehicle, usually a lot of money is involved. An expert report is needed. In the DEKRA education center engineers and automobile technicians are trained to become damage experts.

A DEKRA damage-professional investigate an accidental damage.

A DEKRA damage-professional investigate an accidental damage. Photo: DEKRA

The participants of the kick-off event at the beginning of the new basic course for loss assessors at the DEKRA Training Centre in Altensteig are eagerly waiting. What can I expect in the next weeks and months? How can I reconcile the individual training modules with my job? Can I pass my final exams without any problems? Questions like these should cross everyone’s mind, while training manager Martin Lutz gives a brief overview of the overall concept. And there’s a lot to it.

Martin Lutz: "As an expert organisation, we depend on the expertise and qualifications of every single employee." Photo: Matthias Gaul

Martin Lutz: “As an expert organisation, we depend on the expertise and qualifications of every single employee.” Photo: Matthias Gaul

Anyone who decides to train as an appraiser in order to determine the purchase, sales or replacement value of motor vehicles after the end of the course on behalf of leasing companies, landlords, fleet operators, car dealerships and private individuals, for example, must complete a total of five modules lasting several days over a period of approximately twelve weeks. For loss adjusters, the expenditure amounts to eleven modules over a period of up to eight months. Prospective loss assessors spend 38 days directly in the training centre in Altensteig and ten days in a DEKRA mentor branch.

“Between the individual modules there is enough time to prepare and follow up the learning contents and to apply the acquired knowledge immediately in daily work. In addition, classroom courses are supported by blended learning in the form of e-learning,” says Martin Lutz with regard to the close integration of theory and practice. “Dual training in this form is almost a unique selling point of our company,” the automotive expert and accident analyst continues. Another special feature is that the final audit is carried out in cooperation with the Cologne-based Institut für Sachverständigenwesen (IfS).

Further qualification for new challenges

The IfS has been a recognized forum for the development of national and international standards for many years – so it has weight in the industry and the demands on the training participants are correspondingly high. This is not surprising, as loss assessments for insurance companies and policyholders often involve a lot of money. This makes qualified training even more necessary to ensure that the experts live up to their great responsibility.

Jannick Koch: "The variety between theory and practice was a lot of fun - the anticipation of further training is guaranteed.” Photo: Matthias Gaul

Jannick Koch: “The variety between theory and practice was a lot of fun – the anticipation of further training is guaranteed.” Photo: Matthias Gaul

Jannick Koch, responsible for used car management for Audi and Porsche at the DEKRA Stuttgart branch, is pleased to accept this challenge. The team leader responsible for five locations completed his training as an evaluator a few years ago and is now adding another level of qualification at the top. “To cover an even broader spectrum, I decided on the claims assessor training course,” says the 23-year-old motor vehicle master. And that’s not all: one day, the enthusiastic football fan also wants to take part in the IfS certificate examination for loss assessors. This is possible if you have worked as an automotive expert for at least three years.

Alexandre Rémon is probably one of the rarer participants of the DEKRA training course. The aerospace engineer works in the quality development department at DEKRA Automobil GmbH’s head office in Stuttgart, where he is involved in data analysis for vehicle evaluations and damage assessments. “In Altensteig, I get the necessary background to better understand how and where the data collected arise and what factors have an influence on this data,” explains the native of Stuttgart with French roots. The acquired know-how is to serve to discover possible error potential, to further optimize the process flows and thus to support the experts on site in their work in the best possible way.

3 – Ausbildungsleiter Martin Lutz präsentiert bei der Kick-off-Veranstaltung unter anderem auch den Gutachter-Koffer Instructor Daniel Kilgus and Alexandre Rémon investigate accident damage. Photo: Matthias Gaul 10 – Die Bestimmung des richtigen Farbtons ist einer der entscheidenden Arbeitsschritte bei der Reparaturlackierung 9 – Auch die Besonderheiten einer Aluminiumkarosserie sind Thema der Gutachter-Ausbildung Die Bestimmung des richtigen Farbtons ist einer der entscheidenden Arbeitsschritte bei der Reparaturlackierung. Foto: Matthias Gaul

A lot of high-tech for practical training

Like the other participants, Jannick Koch and Alexandre Rémon are expecting an extensive learning programme with proven experts as speakers in the coming months. In modules such as body, paint or body technology, including chassis measurement, they themselves get to grips with the composition of automobiles, how they react to crashes and what repair and painting options are available in view of many new materials and the increasing use of driver assistance systems and sensors. For this purpose, the DEKRA Altensteig Training Centre is equipped with a great deal of high-tech – including two modern straightening and measuring systems, its own room with forming machines for the production or modification of body parts, a lifting platform for the diagnosis and dismantling or assembly of the accident-damaged vehicles and a glazed Sehon painting cabin with adjoining paint mixing room.

Alexandre Rémon: "From the first week of training, I returned to work with exciting impressions and a sharpened view of the vehicle.” Photo: Matthias Gaul

Alexandre Rémon: “From the first week of training, I returned to work with exciting impressions and a sharpened view of the vehicle.” Photo: Matthias Gaul

Only recently, the investment was also made in a multi-material workstation for all bodywork work on steel, aluminium and carbon and their mixed construction methods including a multi-dust separator for the safe and spark-free extraction of a wide variety of dusts without the risk of explosion. In addition to cars, the learning programme also includes a module for motorcycles, light commercial vehicles and residential vehicles. Also introductions to vehicle inspection and damage assessment, the use of assessment tools, calculation and expert opinion preparation as well as claims law. A broad spectrum is therefore provided for. And who knows, maybe one or the other participant will decide to specialize in expert reports for heavy commercial vehicles or engine aggregates. In any case, the offer in Altensteig is in demand. This applies equally to the experts at DEKRA. The expert organisation now employs around 3,000 loss assessors nationwide, around 170 of whom hold an IfS certificate. Their number should continue to increase in the coming years.

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