By Stephanie K. Jones
What would happen to the auto insurance industry if automobile safety improves to the point that vehicle collisions become relics of the past?
That’s the question explored by global consulting and research firm, Celent, in a new report that envisions a future of increasing emphasis on safety in the automobile industry and among government entities that leads to a massive drop off in auto insurance premium for U.S. property/casualty insurance companies.
As addressed in prior press releases and communications to repairers nationwide, Ray Gunder of Gunder’s Auto Center has been pressing insurers to provide full compensation to his customers for processes and materials necessary to properly and thoroughly repair his customer’s vehicles. As a result, his customers have received full compensation each and every time, but still, at times, the nation’s largest insurer continues to deny consideration for the very same things that they have paid for in the past
Ray Gunder stated: “I’ve heard that one definition of ‘insanity’ is “To do the same thing repeatedly while anticipating a different result and I guess I must be a bit crazy because I have found that State Farm will deny one customer for the very same procedures of which they have agreed to provide to another only a week earlier!?
Gov. Rick Scott signed off on a bill reforming Florida’s auto insurance system Friday, finalizing a contentious debate around the now-approved law that overhauls how the state compensates providers and policyholders for crash-related injuries.
Legislators passed the reform bill in early March by an 80-34 vote in the state House and a 22-17 vote in the state Senate. That compromise bill followed battles in both state chambers over how to improve the state’s personal injury protection (PIP) coverage system that reimburses policyholders for post-crash medical expenses regardless of who was at fault for the collision.
The law’s proponents say it will save taxpayers money because it will reduce the rate of insurance-related crime, and insurers will, in theory, pass savings from reform onto drivers who search for Florida car insurance with lower premiums.
Opponents say that the reform measure severely undercuts the value of PIP coverage by restricting the amount that can go to treating nonemergency medical conditions to a total of $2,500, barring massage therapists and acupuncturists from receiving PIP payments and covering only treatments that start within the first 14 days of a crash.
The governor signed the bill into law at an event in Jacksonville, Fla., saying “I am glad to do my part in keeping the cost of living low in Florida.”
The governor’s office cited statistics from state regulators showing that the number of crashes in the state declined as the amount of PIP payments increased 66 percent in 2006-10.
“These claims have caused auto insurance premiums to burden Florida families,” the governor’s office stated in a release coinciding with the signing ceremony.
New Conditions for PIP Medical Treatment
The new law institutes reforms that tighten restrictions on the kind of medical treatment a person receives under PIP coverage.
Previously, PIP covered up to 80 percent of medical expenses, up to 60 percent of lost income and up to a $5,000 death benefit, up to the policy limits. Reform supporters said this setup was too wide, leading to a rising number of phony claims and, ultimately, higher insurance premiums for everyone in the state.
Medical care providers previously covered by the state’s no-fault coverage included acupuncturists, massage therapists and other nonemergency medical professionals.
The law now eliminates services like massage therapy and acupuncture from benefits eligibility, requiring specific accreditations of facilities, hospitals and physician-owned clinics where policyholders can receive PIP-covered medical treatment. The law also requires policyholders to receive their initial treatment within the first 14 days after a crash if it is to be covered.
Harrisburg police arrested a man after they said he broadcasted "shots fired" on a police radio. Police said they thought one of their officers had been shot, but when they arrived at an auto body shop at 17th and Brookwood streets they quickly realized a worker inside had been playing with a police radio.
The radio call came from a police car that was being worked on at Maaco, police said. Police said the broadcast call was, “19th and Derry, I got a shooting, 19th and Derry I got a shooting! Back-up, back-up!"
Harrisburg police as well as officers from the surrounding area were called to the scene.
Police arrested a Maaco employee Carlos Albino, 22, within moments and determined there were no shots fired in the body shop.
"Carlos Albino came forward and admitted that he made the radio call from the police car. He claimed that he didn’t realize that the radio was activated," a police news release stated.
Albino will be charged with reporting false information to law enforcement. Police said Albino was also wanted on numerous warrants. He was wanted for a parole violation and six traffic warrants dating back to 2009.
The manager at Maaco declined comment on the incident.
The sixth annual Women’s Industry Network Conference kicked off Monday morning in Atlanta with over 200 women from all segments of the collision repair industry. The first day included a keynote address on “Extreme Change: Adapt, Overcome & WIN as One” by Robyn Benincasa, World Champion Adventure Racer, San Diego City Firefighter and Founder of World Class Teams and Project Athena Foundation. Dr. Linda Gravett of Gravett and Associates inspired conference attendees with her strategies for managing stress and maintaining inner peace utilizing exercises borrowed from Tai Chi, Yoga and Tae Kwon Do. The afternoon session included an update on vehicle design and collision avoidance technology and its impact on the industry presented by Kim Hazelbaker, Senior Vice President, Highway Loss Data Institute.
BMW is recalling 24,340 vehicles equipped with diesel engines from the 2009-11 model years that may fail to meet U.S. and California emission control requirements.
About 2,740 2011 and 2012 model year X5 xDrive 50i and X6 xDrive 50i vehicles, and 21,600 3-series diesel models, will be recalled, the automaker said. The recalls were scheduled for May 9, with a customer letter to follow, BMW North America spokesman Dirk Arnold said.
The vehicles were manufactured at factories in Spartanburg, S.C., and Germany.
BMW said certain emissions components, including the SCR catalyst, the DEF mixer and the EGR valve, may improperly overstate vehicle mileage, causing emissions standards to be exceeded and the illumination of the "Service Engine Soon" light.
BMW said the repair will require the inspection and replacement of one or more of the emissions components and the reprogramming of the vehicle's engine control unit.
AIM Autosport FXDD Racing With Ferrari placed first on May 13 at New Jersey Motorsports Park, securing two victories in a row for the Canadian team. The team has retained their first place lead in the Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT Team and Driver Championship Standings with an outstanding eight points.
The team's racers, Jeff Segal and Emil Assentato say they couldn't be more pleased with their win.
The Collision Repair Education Foundation announced the unanimous appointment of Chris Evans, State Farm Insurance Companies, to Chairman Emeritus on the Board of Trustees in recognition and appreciation of his service to the Foundation.
More than 60 people attended the Collision Industry's Legal Seminar held recently in Lakeland, Florida. Attendees came from Oregon, Minnesota, New York and many other states to hear information shared by Ray Gunder, Bret Geohagan (legal counsel for Gunder’s Auto Center, Inc.) and Barrett Smith of Auto Damage Experts, Inc.