Sunday, 30 April 2006 10:00

AZ anti-steering bill would protect consumer choice

An anti-steering bill has been introduced in the Arizona legislature by a last minute tactic know as a "strike everything" amendment. HB 2385, which started its life as a bill concerning eminent domain (the taking of private property by the state) was changed on March 24 to a transportation bill dealing with consumers' rights to select their own repair facilities for auto body repair claims. 

HB 2385 was amended to provide that "a person an insured or claimant in this state has the right to choose any repair facility for the repair of a motor vehicle loss. If an insurer provides information about a repair facility, the insurer shall inform the person insured or claimant of this right at the same time as making the recommendation or providing the information. This section does not create a private right or cause of action to or on behalf of any person.

"If an Insured or Claimant Chooses a Repair Facility Not Recommended by the Insurer or the Insurer's Agent, the Insurer or Insurer's Agent Shall Not:

1. Make any statement regarding the insured's or claimant's choice of repair facility that the insurer or the insurer's agent does not know to be true in order to change the insured or claimant's choice of repair facility.

2. Create any delays in the progress of the repair or processing of the claim that the insurer or the insurer's agent would not have made had the insured chosen a repair facility recommended by the insurer or the insurers' agent.

3. If an insured or claimant selects a repair facility to repair the insured's or claimant's motor vehicle in which the insurer owns an interest in that repair facility, the adjuster for the motor vehicle shall not be employed by the repair facility or have any direct authority over that facility's recommendations or decisions relating to the repair of the insured's or claimant's motor vehicle."

There is similar language in the bill for auto glass repairs, except that the glass repair provisions allow for exceptions where an insurance contract expressly provides for a glass repair network.

Insurers fire off a volley

Predictably, the bill drew fire from The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), which is asking the Arizona Senate to vote no on House Bill 2063, saying it would make it more difficult for insurers to provide consumers important information about automobile and glass repair facilities."