The CAA has released an appeal to its members which reads as follows:
You may have read about the Commission on the 21st Century Economy, a blue ribbon tax panel tasked with finding ways to modernize California’s tax system.
What hasn’t gotten much news media attention are some of the specific tax changes that are very alarming for California taxpayers. Proposals under serious consideration include a property tax change that could lead to higher taxes for employers and higher rents for small businesses and average Californian and a doubling of the state gas tax that would cost billions every year.
Consumer Watchdog says it has "heard from consumers who felt they were mistreated by Los Angles-based Mercury Insurance Company. Our advocates and attorneys have observed Mercury's efforts to cheat consumers and avoid accountability through the Legislature, before state insurance regulators, and in the courts. For these reasons, Consumer Watchdog believes that consumers cannot trust Mercury Insurance. Here are the top 10 reasons why you cannot trust Mercury."
Opponents of Assembly Member Mary Hayashi’s (D-Hayward) auto insurance industry-sponsored legislation, A.B. 1200, released a set of documents today they claim show the intent of Hayashi’s bill is profit for insurers, not consumer information or safety.
On Aug. 25, Mary Hayashi chaired a hearing of the State Assembly to investigate fraud in the auto body industry in California. The hearing is closely related to AB 1200, which narrowly failed on the Senate floor during a 19-17 “Aye to Noe” vote on Aug. 24. Even though the vote was 19 in favor, the bill needed a 21 vote majority to pass. The bill was approved for “reconsideration,” which means it can either be voted on again, or it dies. This bill was also taken out of order. Insurance companies are lobbying very hard for this bill.
Bill Status: AB 1200 (Hayashi) was narrowly defeated on the Senate floor on August 24th. But, the bill was granted reconsideration, so victory is not yet assured. The legislation passed the Senate Banking, Finance, and Insurance Committee by a vote of 8 to 1, with 3 abstentions on July 9th.
“Unfortunately, AB1200 has been subject to a disinformation campaign led by those who have a vested interest in not allowing insurers to discuss these options with their claimants. These include trial lawyers who sometimes file questionable or frivolous lawsuits related to auto body shop repair.”
—Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi
In a piece written for the San Francisco Chronicle Open Forum on Aug. 19, Hayashi (photo left) asserted that AB1200 was under attack from a “disinformation campaign.” When looking at the facts of the bill it becomes clear that there is an abundance of disinformation on the bill, largely emanating from Assemblywoman Hayashi and the bill’s insurance company bankrollers.
Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi has authored a bill (AB 1200) that is meant to undo California’s anti-steering consumer protections. Hayashi’s bill is sponsored and supported by the auto insurance industry. The insurance industry supporters maintain that this bill allows insurance companies to better inform their policyholders about the benefits of DRPs. Uniformly opposing Hayashi’s bill are consumer advocacy groups.
The author of AB 1200, a bill that would make it easier for insurers to steer customers, will chair a legislative hearing on auto body repair fraud on Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at 2 pm in Room 126 of the State Capitol, Sacramento. The CRA---which is opposed to the bill---will request an opportunity to testify before the bill’s author, Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi who runs the powerful Assembly Business and Professions Committee.
“We resent the tone of the author who [implies] that insurers need more control over the repair process because there are too many dishonest collision repairers,” stated Lee Amaradio, CRA president. “ We applaud Congresswoman Jackie Speier for standing in opposition to Assemblywoman Hayashi’s special interest effort to reward insurers by giving them a blank check to strong arm claimants through the claims process. “ Amaradio is asking CRA members to come to the hearing to address any untruths that might be foisted upon committee members. CRA will issue updates on the hearing on August t as they occur.
The California Autobody Association (CAA) is asking its membership to send letters to both their Senators and Assemblymembers in opposition of AB 1200. This bill could be heard on the Senate and Assembly floors within the next few weeks.
The CAA is very concerned that AB 1200, as proposed, would allow insurers to legally “steer” the insured or claimant to an insurer preferred repair shop even after an informed consumer has clearly made a choice as to where the vehicle should be repaired. This bill would override current law which prohibits insurers from “steering” the insured or claimant to an insurer preferred shop after the
Diamondback Collision Center, in Glendale, Arizona, has been acquired by the Boyd Group Inc. (“Boyd Group”) and will now operate under the Gerber Collision & Glass trade name. This acquisition was completed on August 10, 2009. The new location is approximately 18,000 square feet and well located in an area to help serve consumers and insurance clients in the northwest suburban Phoenix area. Including this acquisition, Boyd Group now owns and operates 37 centers in Canada and 47 centers in the U.S., for a total of 84 centers in North America.
On July 9, a Los Angeles County appelate court upheld Infinity Insurance’s claim that it is only liable for all of its insured’s costs if the vehicle owner uses an Infinity DRP shop for repairs, otherwise it is only liable for 80% of the repair costs.
Consumer Watchdog is urging Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi (D-Hayward) to amend her proposal (AB 1200) that seeks to undo a current California law prohibiting insurance companies from pushing, or "steering," customers to auto body shops under contract with the insurer.
Since late 2008, Southern California body shops have been prevented from installing new spray booths or been able to modify their existing spray booth from its existing permit condition, including moving an existing booth to a new location, or adding an air make-up system for waterborne paint.
The California Autobody Association (CAA) would like to thank their members for meeting with Senator Yee (SB 350) and Senator Negrete McCloud (SB 427) and educating them regarding the issues surrounding aftermarket crash parts. Both SB 350 and SB 427 are going to be held in Committee and are now two-years bills. They could possibly be back next year in some form or another.
CRA Sides with New Car Dealers in Fighting Insurance Bill
CRA president Lee Amaradio today called the association’s opposition to AB 1200 (Hayashi, D-Hayward) a “defining moment in the collision repair industry. “This short-sighted legislation, written by the Personal Insurance Federation of California, seeks to end the right of consumers to choose where their damaged vehicle is repaired,” said Amaradio. “In articulating our opposition, we have an opportunity to educate lawmakers on the harm caused by insurers that steer customers to their DRP shops. Conversely, if we fail, insurers will have a death lock on the process by which repair facilities are selected by vehicle owners.”
Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner announced June 24 the arrests of Ruben Andrade Sr., 48; his son, Ruben Andrade Jr., 18; Cristina Ramirez, 20; and Gustavo Hernandez, 20; all of Sacramento, in connection with insurance fraud charges.
Since late 2008, Southern California shops have been prevented from installing a new spray booth or from modifying their spray booth from its existing permit condition, including moving an existing booth to a new location, or adding an air make-up system for waterborne paint.
PPG document sheds technical light on controversial auto refinishing operation
Over the past few years our industry has seen a major change regarding the process we use to put the “final touch” on a refinished vehicle. Although once referred to as "Color Sand & Buff", we now more accurately describe this process as "Finish Sand and Polish".
Industry supporters came together to deliver state of the art emergency extrication training to more than 125 emergency service personnel in Las Vegas the week of June 1. 911 Collision Centers, Kent Automotive and Hertz Local Edition hosted the event with Progressive Insurance, Nationwide Insurance and Green Leaf Recyclers providing vehicles.
After working in the casino industry in marketing for 17 years, Reno resident Forrest Bietz decided to make a career change, and he purchased a franchise business, ColorAll Technologies, aimed at providing minor truck and auto body repair and painting -- targeted to car dealerships and fleet operations. Bietz wanted a business that would offer less stress and give him more control over his professional activities.
Unlike traditional auto body repair shops, which focuses only on collision repair, BumperDoc offers a wide variety of cosmetic repair services for automobiles. Their distinctive "one-stop shop" model chooses to recondition (repair) versus replacing parts by all means necessary, which enables customers to save time and money. BumperDoc offers customers 7 other services for their auto appearance needs.
Complaints sent to CRA will go directly to the legal unit instead of consumer services
Collision Repair Association of California (CRA) board members, staff and member shops met with the state department of insurance’s (CDI) legal staff to discuss insurer complaints. See previous meeting story here.
Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner was joined by State Farm’s California Senior Vice President Rand Harbert to announce a $219 million rate reduction for State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Company policyholders in California on May 14. This represents an average decrease of 8 percent. State Farm policyholders throughout California will be keeping $219 million more of their hard-earned money, thanks to this rate cut,” said Commissioner Poizner. “Since I took office 2007, rates have fallen by nearly $2 billion for California consumers, and it is encouraging that in these tough economic times, the largest auto insurer in the state is passing company savings along to policyholders.”
There has been a great deal of discussion recently about database manipulation. This manipulation can take many forms and exists at the expense of the collision repair industry and the rights of California’s consumers.
There’s an old Arabian proverb that’s become popular with our politicians: “If the camel gets his nose into the tent, his body will soon follow.” The proverb suggests that if the nose enters, step-by-step the whole camel will eventually be inside the tent and the occupant will be shivering on the outside.
Michael Spears, of Collision Authority in Nevada, reports that AB297 passed the Assembly on April 21 and now heads to the Nevada Senate. The vote was 31 yea, 10 Nay, 1 Not Voting. Spears credits an active collision repairer campaign to educate and solicit support from the Assembly.
The California Autobody Association asks ARE YOU BEING ASKED TO SELL YOUR PAINT MATERIALS AT COST?
There are several software programs available to both insurers and body shops that calculate the paint materials charge by not only using the number of refinish units, but the color of the car as well as other job specifics.
I-CAR, the Inter-industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair welcomed a celebrity visitor to its classroom recently. Celebrity car builder Rich Evans took the new training program Waterborne Products, Systems, and Application (REF07) on Tuesday, March 3 in Huntington Beach, California.
More than 100 collision shop owners, insurance company representatives, lobbyists and policy makers met in Sacramento on Feb. 25th for a public hearing to offer comments on proposed regulation 2698.93, implementing and interpreting California Insurance Code 758.5, also know as the “anti-steering statute”.
What follows are extracts from recent email communication between a Southern California shop and a Progressive Specialist. At issue was a late model 7 Series BMW, which the shop insisted qualified for a specialty rate.
[Shop To Progressive Specialist] In our last conversation I was told you did not have a problem with our specialty rates for high end vehicles. I just need your feedback before I proceed. We employ a higher skilled tech to work on these cars and for our numbers to work we need to charge accordingly. It is our intention to keep the car moving and order parts today. Please let me know what to do about the rate difference so that my supplement is as accurate as possible. In addition we have not raised our door rates as of Jan 1st as planned. I will let you know when we do and we can discuss then. Thank you for your time,
David McClune, Executive Director of the California Autobody Association (CAA) announced an agreement with GRC-Pirk Management for members to acquire Certified Green Investment (CGI) qualifications on Jan. 19.
California’s Department of Insurance (CDI) will hold a public hearing to provide all interested parties the opportunity to present comments with respect to a new regulation on Insurer Recommendations of Automotive Repair Dealers.
Bruce Bennett congratulates Benny (Bilko) Bialkowicz for the second straight year of record sales in the Inland Empire and San Bernardino area. While saving body shops material costs, Benny helped answered and troubleshooting the new waterborne fears in the paint department. Welcome Aboard!!
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed a new plan to address the state’s budget deficit that includes charging sales tax on automotive repairs, which will include taxing labor on collision repairs.
Autobody News columnist and custom car builder Rich Evans, of Huntington Beach Bodyworks, has signed a television deal with studio Four In Hand.
Together Evans and Four In Hand will create a revolutionary show that will bring Evans’ creative genius and passion for customizing anything that moves.
Whether it’s trucks, boats, bikes or cars, Evans stamps his signature style on everything that leaves his garage.
“Four In Hand couldn’t be more excited about working with the world’s greatest customizing artist, Rich Evans,” remarked Henry Johnston, executive vice-president of Global Distribution. “He’s the best in the business and this show will prove it. We’ll have drama, intrigue, and some creative twists that will make this a break-out show for all to watch.”
“This is a dream come true,” said Evans. “Four In Hand is giving me the opportunity to bring my craft to the small screen and take on projects that no one else has done. The concept we’re developing will appeal to a wide audience and we hope everyone will tune in.”
The show is currently in the development phase and is scheduled to begin production in 2009. Four In Hand is a new multi-platform studio that develops and distributes cutting-edge, quality productions for television, film, Internet and branded entertainment. The studio has critically- acclaimed programs airing on national television and several new shows in production and in development. Four In Hand’s offices are in New York and Boston.
The October 23rd, 2008 Oregon Supreme Court decision supporting Oregon policyholders in collecting diminished value could solve other auto damage/repair related concerns as well. Oregon has joined the growing list of states which agree that policyholders are entitled to the loss (diminished) value of their vehicles when repairs do not fully restore the pre-loss value of their vehicle! Post Repair Inspections professionals across the country applaud the decision and applaud the consumer’s perseverance in seeing this matter through to conclusion.
The California Department of Insurance is inching closer to releasing long-awaited rules to clarify how insurers may use labor rate surveys in adjusting claims. Draft rules have been presented to a working group of insurer and repairer lobbyists, including Richard Steffen representing the CRA. The department wants initial responses submitted to the department by October 10 with a showdown meeting set for October 17 at the department. Eventually the department will formally issues the rules, affording all interested parties (consumers, repairers, etc.) an opportunity to comment in writing.
Farmers Insurance announced that in a plea agreement with the San Jose District Attorney's Office in a criminal prosecution on 17 counts of insurance fraud, Gia Van Tran, owner of Tommy's Auto Body, San Jose, was sentenced to three years prison time for violation of Penal Code section 550(a)(1) (false statements in support of claim for insurance benefits).
Representatives of collision repair associations and insurers told the Department of Insurance (Aug. 26) that labor rate survey data should not be handled by third-party vendors. The department had floated the idea that CCC/Mitchell might be candidates for collecting labor rate data. The responses were provided at a meeting of insures, repairers and department officials.
The California Autobody Association has issued a Legislative Alert requesting all California shops to contact the governor's office in opposition to AB 2825 (Carter). This bill is very similar to one vetoed last year by Governor Schwarzenegger.
Aug 15, 2008 -The Collision Repair Association of California (CRA) announced the addition of two new board members and a new president to help lead the trade group in its third year of fighting for the right of consumers to have their vehicles repaired in a quality manner at reasonable rates.
When talking about the collision industry’s most influential women, Linda Holcomb more than fits the bill. Born in San Jose, California, Holcomb grew up in the post-war age of liberation for young people. In her zeal to start her working life, she liberated herself from college and went to work for Wilson Sales Co., the largest automotive equipment distribution company in Northern California. During the first two years she spent learning marketing and advertising on the job and became known as the first woman to ever enter the automotive equipment distribution industry.
The California Autobody Association’s New San Fernando Valley chapter recently swore in their 2008 officers at their June chapter meeting in Van Nuys, CA. State board representative Chuck Reyes, Alhambra Auto Kraft, swore in the new officers. The newly activated chapter is dedicated to providing its members information that will be useful to their business by bringing in speakers that are involved in the collision repair industry.
The California Assembly unanimously passed California Senate Bill 1371–the fifth version of the bill–that prohibits insurance companies from placing caps on payouts for collision repairs. The problem for the past two years has been that lawmakers cannot agree on a definition of capping.
A warm San Diego evening with the breeze blowing in off the water created a perfect backdrop for the California Autobody Association (AAA) San Diego Chapter meeting. Special guest BAR Chief Sherry Mehl spoke to the group – which was about 100 strong. After a buffet dinner, Mehl took to the podium and spoke about the updates and changes at the BAR before taking questions submitted by the attendees.
The California Assembly unanimously passed California Senate Bill 1371 - the fifth version of the bill - that prohibits insurance companies from placing caps on payouts for collision repairs. The problem for the past two years has been that lawmakers cannot agree on a definition of capping.
California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner announced that Department of Insurance investigators assisted in developing felony insurance fraud criminal complaints against Bita Imani, the owner of Redwood-city auto repair shop Group Specialists, and Mehran Baranriz, the general manager.