The Houston City Council will soon consider new auto repair industry regulations for the city amid complaints that some body shops are deceiving consumers.
The changes would be aimed at increasing transparency within the industry, said Lt. Wendy Bainbridge with the Houston Police Department, according to KHOU 11 News Houston.
The city is in the process of drafting an ordinance that would mainly require better record-keeping at body shops, cap repair work without consent at $100 and mandate a written estimate of any special fees.
Industry representatives, including the Houston Auto Body Association (HABA), applaud some of the proposed mandates but are quick to say others may end up bogging down reputable businesses, slowing their ability to serve customers.
“Crash taxes,” or accident response fees, are sweeping the nation. Cities in 27 states have adopted them in one form or another, including Dallas, Texas; Buffalo, New York; Toledo, Ohio; and New Haven, Connecticut.
But not every state has been eager to bill those involved in motor vehicle accidents for the services of responding firefighters and police officers. According to Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, 13 states, including neighboring Pennsylvania, have outlawed accident fees, preventing their municipalities from billing those injured in motor vehicle accidents for fire and police department services. New York may be the 14th state to ban crash taxes.
A Crash Tax for New York City?
Earlier this year, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed that drivers be assessed an accident response fee when the New York Fire Department (NYFD) responds to an accident or car fire. The proposal basically meant that if the NYFD responded to: – A vehicle fire or car accident with injuries, then drivers would receive a bill for $490.
- A fire without injuries, those involved would receive a bill for $415.
- An accident without injuries, motorists would be assessed a crash tax of $365.
New Jersey made massive change to the regulations for the personal injury element of auto insurance this month, with the intention of keeping rate increases under control, according to Live Insurance News.
The primary changes have to do with the ways in which a doctor will be permitted to bill for the treatments provided, and will recreate the way in which a claim that has been denied can be appealed.
While New Jersey has maintained its status among the more costly states in which to buy car insurance, its residents are paying lower premiums following former Governor James McGreevey’s changes, which were enacted in 2003 in order to encourage competition. However, more recently, rates have been climbing upward once more and officials are blaming personal injury expenses.
According to the Department of Banking and Insurance in New Jersey, in 2010, 97% of all rate increases were a direct result in an alarming increase in the personal injury claims being paid out. It also stated that $1.23 was being spent by insurers for benefits for every dollar that they made for personal injury premiums.
Hundreds of Teamster members and their families protested BMW's greed outside 50 BMW dealerships in 11 states -- California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, New York and Virginia -- this past weekend. The protesters distributed leaflets and held banners that read "BMW: The Ultimate Misery." They informed BMW customers about BMW's plan to lay off nearly 100 Ontario, Calif. employees on August 31, 2011 and immediately re-open the parts distribution center with a cheaper, inexperienced work force.
Local 495, located in Covina, Calif., represents 68 workers at the Ontario parts distribution facility.
"BMW got bailed out with nearly $4 billion in low-interest federal loans and in exchange, they are mocking America's plant closing laws and destroying working families," said Randy Cammack, President of Teamsters Joint Council 42. "They've also hired Jackson Lewis, the top union-hostile law firm in the U.S., to help them outsource these good, middle-class jobs."
"BMW would never be allowed to get away with this in Germany," said Teamsters Local 495 Secretary-Treasurer Bob Lennox. "Many of these employees have worked there for 10, 20, 30 years. They think they can take an American taxpayer bailout and then treat their American workers in a way they would never dare to treat their German employees."
The National Auto Body Council (NABC) has announced that the nomination process is now open for the 2011 NABC board of directors election.
The election will take place as part of the NABC annual meeting which is to be held this year on November 1, 2011 at Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas during SEMA. Anyone interested in seeking a board position or in nominating an individual for a position should note that nominations remain open until Monday, September 2, 2011, as prescribed by the NABC bylaws.
Automotive Service and Repair Week (ASRW), in conjunction with DuPont Performance Coatings, announced August 9 that noted author and journalist Chris Brogan will headline the Opening General Session at ASRW 2011. The Opening General Session will take place Thursday, Oct. 6, from 8:30 a.m.-10 a.m.
Brogan, who is also a marketing consultant and frequent speaker about social media marketing, educates businesses and organizations on how social software aligns with their strategies. He is the president and CEO of Human Business Works, an education and community company. He consults and speaks professionally with Fortune 100 and 500 companies such as PepsiCo, Microsoft and more on the future of business communications and social software technologies. He is the New York Times bestselling co-author of Trust Agents, and a featured monthly columnist at Entrepreneur Magazine. Brogan’s blog, chrisbrogan.com, is in the Top 5 of the Advertising Age Power150. He has over 11 years of experience in online community, social media and related technologies.
“Technology and the advent of social media in particular have changed the way we all do business, so we feel Chris Brogan is not only a timely choice for this year’s keynote presentation, but an extremely relevant one,” said Harry Hall, DuPont North America Sales Manager – Refinish. “Brogan has become a leader in his field through his innate use of technology and connecting it to business, which parallels DuPont Performance Coatings’ philosophy of innovation as a leader in the collision repair industry.”
Automotive Service & Repair Week (ASRW) is pleased to announce BASF has committed to a presence on the show floor at the upcoming 2011 event. This year is the first since 2008 for ASRW to include BASF among its list of exhibitors.
“NACE is the premier event for the collision repair industry and we understand how important it is to represent the BASF brand among this core audience who uses BASF products,” said Chuck Soeder, vice president, BASF Automotive Refinish. “We look forward to supporting the industry by exhibiting at ASRW this October.”
BASF can be found in booth N1413 at the ASRW Expo.
“BASF’s participation in ASRW this year is truly significant for several reasons. Aside from our audience consistently requesting to see them on the show floor, their return is also the latest event in a growing list of positive turns ASRW has experienced this year, leading up to the Orlando event,” said Ron Pyle, ASA president.
The Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) is conducting a survey of 13 major insurance companies to determine their use of aftermarket replacement parts.
The survey was sent last week to Allstate, American Family, Farmers, GEICO, Liberty Mutual, Mercury Insurance, Met Life Auto and Home, Nationwide, Progressive, State Farm, The Hartford, Travelers and USAA, according to Aaron Schulenburg, executive director of SCRS. He said the survey was “an effort to bring further transparency to our understanding of carrier’s approaches to use of aftermarket replacement parts.” The survey was motivated by input from SCRS members and ongoing discussions stemming from aftermarket replacement parts, Schulenburg said.
“We are finding that members in different parts of the country are submitting conflicting reports about the policies of some major national insurance companies. In other words, we are hearing that in some cases field level practices may vary from official corporate policy on parts use. In some cases, an insurer may have a policy for use of only certified parts, but when a certified part is unavailable, the shop is instructed to simply select a non-certified part by the field adjuster,” Schulenburg said.
“It is also possible that, in those cases, some shops may assume that a non-certified part is what the carrier wants them to do, and may not realize that the insurer would prefer an OEM replacement part if the only available alternative is a non-certified part,” he continued. “Knowing what specific corporate policies exist, provides for a better, more transparent, understanding of the approach taken in settling a vehicle owners claim. “In the interest of transparency, and with an issue as important as aftermarket parts in structural repair, the SCRS board of directors felt that it would be worth our efforts to conduct this study, and share the results with the industry.”
To see the insurer survey, CLICK HERE
Toyota and Tesla Motors, Inc. confirmed August 5 that their jointly-developed RAV4 electric vehicle will be built at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Inc. (TMMC) in Woodstock, Ontario beginning in 2012.
"The Tesla-Toyota joint development team has agreed that building the vehicle at the Woodstock plant on the same line as the gasoline-powered RAV4, will streamline and simplify the production process and guarantee the highest level of quality control," said Ray Tanguay, TMMC Chairman, who hosted Canadian officials at the plant August 5 and thanked them for their support. "This is a great example of Toyota's determination to collaborate with companies with leading edge technology."
As previously announced, Toyota will pay Tesla approximately $100 million to supply the electric powertrain, which includes the battery, motor, gear box and power electronics for the RAV4 EV. Tesla will build the electric powertrains at its production facility in Palo Alto, California and then ship them to TMMC for final assembly into the vehicle.
The RAV4 EV will be sold at U.S. Toyota dealers through Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. Details including pricing, volume and regional distribution will be determined and announced at a later time.
According to reports made by Bloomberg, General Motors Co. outsold Toyota Motor Corp. globally in the first six months of 2011 to become the world’s largest automaker after the record March earthquake disrupted production in Japan.
GM sales rose 8.9 percent to 4.536 million units in the half-year ended June 30, the Detroit-based automaker said in a statement yesterday. That compares with 4.13 million units at second-ranked Volkswagen AG and 3.71 million units for Toyota, including its luxury Lexus marque and affiliates Daihatsu Motor Co. and Hino Motors Ltd., according to statements by the companies.
Output at the Toyota City, Japan-based automaker slumped 23 percent to 3.37 million units in the half-year after the company halted production following the magnitude-9 temblor and tsunami in March. Toyota expects to enter a production recovery phase in September, one month earlier than previously announced, the automaker said Aug. 2.