CertifiedFirst Network Shops Given Automatic Access to Unitrin Directs Accelerated Appraisal Program

STRONGSVILLE, Ohio, Mar 1, 2002 (AutomotiveWire) — The CertifiedFirst(TM) Network, a national group of quality-rated auto body repair shops, and Unitrin Direct Auto Insurance, a business of Unitrin, Inc. (NYSE:UTR), have entered into an agreement through which CertifiedFirst Network shops automatically become participating facilities in Unitrin Direct’s Accelerated Appraisal Program.
Under the agreement, all CertifiedFirst Network body shops located in states where Unitrin Direct operates have been entered into the Accelerated Appraisal Program shop database. Network shops do not need to apply with Unitrin separately, or undergo an additional inspection by Unitrin in order to become one of the insurance company’s preferred shops. Unitrin Direct currently offers insurance in California, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

The agreement between the CertifiedFirst Network and Unitrin Direct is effective immediately. Unitrin Direct has already contacted CertifiedFirst Network shops in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

“This agreement shows that auto insurers are looking for auto repair shops committed to customer service and quality, as verified by credible third parties,” said Mary Kimbro, director, CertifiedFirst Network. “Unitrin Direct’s recognition of the Certified First Network highlights the important connection between customer satisfaction at the shop level and overall auto insurance policyholder retention.”

Unitrin Direct will notify CertifiedFirst Network shops when it has referred policyholders for an estimate or appraisal. Unitrin Direct customers seeking referrals from their agent or adjuster will be advised of the CertifiedFirst Network’s commitment to quality and customer service.

About Unitrin Direct

Unitrin Direct is a business of Unitrin, Inc. (NYSE:UTR; www.unitrin.com), headquartered in Chicago. Unitrin member insurance companies have served the basic financial needs of individuals, families and small businesses for over 75 years. Through its insurance subsidiaries, Unitrin provides property and casualty insurance and life and health insurance. The Unitrin family of insurance companies currently has over $5.1 billion in assets and 6 million insurance policies in force. Unitrin’s insurance companies employ more than 6,800 associates. Unitrin Direct’s underwriting insurance companies are members of the Unitrin Property and Casualty Insurance Group, which enjoys an A+ (Superior) financial rating from A.M. Best, one of the leading experts in assessing the financial stability of insurance companies.

About the CertifiedFirst Network

The CertifiedFirst Network is a national group of dealership and independently owned auto body repair centers. One of the most important aspects of the CertifiedFirst Network is that the standards required to be met by participating auto body repair shops are verified by independent third parties. The standards, consistent across the CertifiedFirst Network, are divided into two major categories – an evaluation of the repair center itself, on aspects ranging from its facilities to employee training, and measurement of the satisfaction level of the repair center’s customers.
Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL), conducts the facility verification review and Customer Research, Inc., (CRI) verifies customer satisfaction. The UL name is a familiar and trusted one, providing credibility to the Network. CRI also has a strong track record, having specialized in customer satisfaction and marketing research for the automotive industry since 1967.

For more information on the CertifiedFirst Network, visit www.certifiedfirst.com.

CONTACT: The CertifiedFirst Network
Mary Kimbro, 440/572-2800
mkimbro@ppg.com
or
Magnet Communications
David Crosson, 412/456-7836
dcrosson@magnetcom.com

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