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 in more than 30 states, the introduction of the Promoting Automotive Repair, Trade, and Sales (PARTS) Act in Congress and litigation on the use of direct repair programs (DRP) pending around the country.
The auto industry has a near monopoly with aftermarket parts that allows them to charge as much as 60 percent more than other kinds of replacement parts. In the last decade, in an effort to further block competition for replacement parts, the auto industry is exploiting the U.S. patent system attempting to use 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) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) introduced S. 560 and H.R. 1057, the Promoting Automotive Repair, Trade and Sales (PARTS) Act of 2015. 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 this year involving this issue 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. Although, lawmakers stopped the legislation in the regular session of the legislature, it could be considered in the special session.
Insurers and consumers continue to confront skyrocketing and inconsistent charges and fees associated with vehicle towing and storage. This year several states (Illinois, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Missouri, North Dakota and Wyoming) have considered legislation covering a variety of issues associated with towing. Additionally, insurers, law enforcement, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, City of Chicago and others are exploring ways to address the problem of rogue towers in Chicago.