Prior Approval

Just about every dealership has had at least one of these. You may have had one this month, this week, or heck, even today!


You’re MAD because the claims that need PRIOR approval are usually the LARGE EXPENSIVE claims so you start looking for someone to blame, and here is the list of offenders:

  1. The warranty admin:  After all they should have caught it before it was entered.

  2. The booker: It should have not been booked without an approval.

  3. The advisor:  It was on the manufacturer’s website why didn’t they catch it.

  4. The technician: The car should not have been repaired without approval.

  5. The shop foreman: This person should have known  what the techs are doing.

  6. The service manager:  Sharing is caring, and the manager didn’t share the prior approval list.

  7. The parts department:  They should not have given out a part that needed prior approval.

  8. The manufacturer:  Oh, but wait! They put it right there on the VIN inquiry now in most cases.

We can probably add to this, but in reality, these people are ALL part of the process and need to know the specific requirements for prior approval.

 This is not a one time training, it is an ongoing process where information needs to be shared regularly.  Below are some items that we have found can help:

  • The warranty admin can help by printing off the list of prior approval items every payday and delivering it to all service staff.  


Note that the admin may hold out any claim without prior approval, so you can try to get approval after the fact.  However, it may not get approved; in an audit they would see the approval time line was after the fact.


  • The booker can also stop a claim before it is booked in order to obtain prior approval.  Again, this is not the proper process because PRIOR approval is, well……..prior.


  • The advisor most surely should look to see if it is on his list of prior approvals, as well as actually reading the VIN inquiry and part verification screen.  This should indicate the need for approval and if the need for pictures is required.


  • The technician also has to know the approval guidelines and limits. Remember that the main task of the tech is to fix the vehicle. Monday morning meetings, for even five minutes, can make a difference.  Share current information and past failures in order to keep them on the road to success in claims payments.


  • The shop foreman can also help by making sure prior approval processes and requirements are constantly posted and enforced daily.


One idea I found to be working well, was a big easel with huge paper located at the entry to the shop listing all the current or new prior approvals. This was so visible that the techs had to see it constantly.

  • Service  managers should review claims regularly to make sure policy and authorization guidelines are consistently being followed. It is the old saying ‘inspect what you expect.’ You are busy and service is crazy, but you have to at least look at paperwork weekly in order to adequately train your department for what is lacking.


One service manager that had an extremely successful department, met daily with his warranty admin and shop foreman in order to review the paperwork from the day prior.

 It literally took 15 minutes to completely see what was being done correctly, and what needed work. Then the admin was then informed what to look for, while the shop foreman went to communicate with the technicians.


  • The parts department can also play a big role in reminding the technician that the part may need approval prior to replacing.


One parts dept had a sign that read “Have you gotten your prior approval?” This was posted right on the back counter so the techs had to see it all of the time.


These items can help create a bomb proof policy for making sure your claims go through. 


  • You can always beg forgiveness and see if they will give you approval after the fact.


  • You can ask the field rep to see if they can assist in any way.


  • You might be able to ask for goodwill outside of warranty for assistance.


  • You may need to lick your wounds and internal the repair.


If your process has failed, get back up on the horse and tighten your process up.


For more information about our services both for processing your claims or for training your staff contact us.

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