PCI Working to Protect Consumers by Addressing Auto Body Repair
This year has proven to be another active year for auto body repair issues with legislation introduced in 29 states and the expected re-introduction of the Promoting Automotive Repair, Trade, and Sales (PARTS) Act in Congress.
The auto industry has a near monopoly with aftermarket parts that allows them to charge 25% to 50% more than other kinds of replacement parts. In the last decade, in an effort to further block competition for replacement parts, the auto industry has exploited the U.S. patent system by using design patents to restrict competition for replacement parts – at the expense of consumers and businesses.
To address this issue, Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Representatives Darrell Issa (R-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Blake Farenthold (R-TX), and Jim Langevin (D-RI) introduced S. 812 and H.R. 1879, the Promoting Automotive Repair, Trade and Sales (PARTS) Act of 2017 . This bicameral and bipartisan legislation would preserve competition in the collision repair parts marketplace, foster competitive prices and provide consumers with a choice between original equipment manufactured (OEM) parts or an alternative source of quality, non-branded parts, to replace the cosmetic exterior parts of a car that are commonly damaged in an auto accident.
Direct Repair Programs
Some auto body and glass repair shops continue to seek legislation that would prevent you from learning about insurers’ direct repair programs, which are networks of trusted auto body shops that have a track record of providing quality repairs.
One of the major legislative battles on this issue last year took place in Minnesota where the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers (AASP) sought to advance legislation that would have had a detrimental impact on insurers direct repair programs and their ability to contract with body shops. While the legislation was defeated in Minnesota, the possibility remains that the issue may arise in in the states in 2017.
Salvage Title Issues
Since Hurricane Sandy in 2012, states have been active in reviewing their salvage titling laws to prevent flood damaged vehicles from being sold with out a branded title, taking the opportunity to clarify other aspects of their salvage titling laws. So far in 2017, 17 bills have been introduced in 11 states seeking to clarify flood title definitions and provide a way for insurers to obtain a salvage title for total loss vehicles when the owner isn’t able to locate the original title, speeding up total loss settlements, and ensuring that vehicles are property titled before they are sold for salvage.