Tuesday, 18 July 2017 23:43

State Insurance Regulator Expresses Openness to Ideas Implemented in Other States

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Jordan Hendler of the Washington (D.C.) Metropolitan Auto Body Association told Buono that Pennsylvania’s recently enacted regulation allowing the preparation of estimates using only photos was modeled after a similar regulation in Virginia. She asked if Buono’s Department was concerned about consumers getting insufficient settlements if they cashed out based on such estimates, or that potential vehicle safety issues aren’t being pointed out in such situations.

“It’s one of those things I worry about,” Buono said, noting that state lawmakers, not his Department, enact such regulations. He said he would prefer photo appraisals only be used for minor damage, but he also noted his Department has not received complaints from consumers about insufficient settlements.
Hendler asked if perhaps there could be more required disclosures on photo appraisals to alert consumers of their potential limitations.

“I think that is something that I could absolutely look into and take back to see if a disclaimer of that nature should be added or could be added,” Buono said. “It’s something we could talk to our legislative liaisons about to see what we could do to try to make a change.”

Buono also said state regulations on the use of non-OEM parts are clear.

“If there are aftermarket parts that insurance companies are using that do not fit, hopefully no one is saying you’ve got to use them anyway,” Buono said. “In my eyes, that would be an issue in terms of indemnification, of putting [the vehicle] back to the way it was before that loss, no better and no worse. It would obviously be worse. If you are having those situations, don’t be afraid to reach out to us just so we can make sure we’re addressing it appropriately.”

Likewise, he said, “operational safety is paramount” when it comes to part choice. He was asked about an insurer saying all it would pay for is a used suspension for a vehicle.

“If you’re putting a used suspension on a car, that is something that I would hope the insurance company and the shop would have a good enough relationship to say, ‘Look, this is a bad repair for x, y and z reasons,’” Buono said. “I know I’m living in a perfect world [but] we can’t have consumers being put in an unsafe situation. If you do have [that happening], please, let us know.”


John Yoswick, a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon, who has been writing about the automotive industry since 1988, is also the editor of the weekly CRASH Network (for a free 4-week trial subscription, visit CrashNetwork.com). He can be contacted by email at jyoswick@SpiritOne.com.

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