The bill sought to prohibit several practices by insurance companies and collision repair facilities that impact relationships with customers, but the final version holds several amendments from the Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee. Senate Bill 164 will be effective on July 1, 2018.
The Indiana Auto Body Association (IABA) took an active interest in this initiative, with several board members attending hearings in support of the bill.
According to IABA President Doug Martin, "The association felt this bill was important for consumer rights---It's about how the claims process should be conducted for them."
The first part of the bill addresses steering by limiting the insurer's ability to force an insured to a drive-in claim center or similar facility. It also prevents shops from intimidating claimants to boycott a similar facility, as well as from denying SOP access to an insurance representative during normal business hours.
IABA is happy that this measure passed because it's the first anti-steering legislation in Indiana.
Senate Bill 164 also forbids insurers to "unilaterally, arbitrarily disregard a repair operation or cost identified by an estimating system, the use of which has been agreed to by the insurer and the repair shop for determining the cost of the repair."
Martin feels it's imperative that these "not-included operations be considered in the cost of the repair because they're often about quality and safety."
Several items were removed from the initial draft, including a requirement for insurers to conduct a physical inspection before adjusting an appraisal if the extent of damage was disputed by the shop and a prohibition for the insurer to specify the use of a particular vendor for parts or material procurement.
IABA only learned about Senate Bill 164 two weeks before the hearings, and though not all of the items they had hoped for were included in the bill's final version, Martin feels it was still beneficial.
"Customers will get better repairs altogether,” he said. “We finally have anti-steering legislation in Indiana, and it's been a great learning process for all of us. We need to get more shops involved and hope to gain strength by growing IABA's membership so we yield even better results in the future."
IABA will be holding its first round of meetings for 2018 during the week of February 12--15 for all its different chapters across the state. Martin anticipates discussion of Senate Bill 164 as well as conversations about what association members want to know so the board of directors can prepare its agenda for the rest of the year.