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    The Automotive Service Association (ASA) has launched its new health insurance trust plan for members, which provides convenient access to a number of different health plans. Called the Automotive Industry Health Insurance Trust (A-HIT), this important new benefit will be available nationwide by the end of the year, with the initial rollout to cover members in Texas, Kansas and Missouri.
    Automotive repair shop licensing legislation has been introduced in both the Texas state Senate and the Texas state House of Representatives.
    Senate Bill 1120 was introduced by Texas Sen. John Carona, (R-16), and House Bill 2211 by state Rep. Jim Murphy, (R-133). These are companion bills.
    After three years, the Antitrust Modernization Commission (AMC) has released its report on U.S. antitrust laws to President George W. Bush and the U.S. Congress.
    As a part of its ongoing alliance with the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), the Coordinating Committee For Automotive Repair (CCAR) announced a free online training course, Operating Motor Vehicles: A Guide for Employees in the Automotive Repair Industry.
    The Women’s Industry Network (WIN) conference held April 29-May 1, 2007 at the Hilton Airport in Phoenix, Arizona reached full capacity with 100 registrants nearly a month before the start of the conference.
    As the Congressional-established Antitrust Modernization Commission (AMC) issued its report last month, many in the collision industry are wondering – and discussing – what it may mean for the insurance industry’s antitrust exemption.
        “I think it would be foolish to assume that repealing the McCarran-Ferguson Act is a panacea for all the ills in the collision industry,” Ohio attorney Erica Eversman of Vehicle Information Services, Inc., said.
     The SCRS celebrated its 25th anniversary in April at an event in Atlanta that gathered many of the association’s early founders and leaders, and that included awards presentations, the election of a new chairman, a presentation by a lawyer on the McCarran-Ferguson Act, and a dinner celebrating the group’s history and accomplishments. At that dinner, SCRS Executive Director Dan Risley read a passage from a 1982 letter the newly formed association had sent out to recruit members.
    Martin Auto Color of Van Nuys, California, was presented the PPG Platinum Distributor of the Year Award at an awards banquet held during the annual PPG Platinum Distributor Conference in February at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate in Orlando, Florida.
    Gary Wano, of GW & Son Autobody in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, has been appointed Chairman of the NABC PRIDE Committee. Wano succeeds outgoing Chair, Janet Chaney, who showed exemplary leadership during her two years of service.
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State Farm's George Avery said there is potential for less detailed estimates.
    Could that 180-line estimate you just wrote be 179 lines too long?
    During the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) held in Atlanta in April, one participant at the meeting posed this question to insurers: Could you accept an estimate that didn’t include the line-by-line breakdown but instead just the total repair cost?
      
    Seidner’s Collision Centers recently donated $7,500 for the use of the I-CAR™ Education Foundation to train local high school students on collision repair in Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley.
    There was no mousing around when the Collision Repair Association of California (CRA) met near Disneyland to outline their agenda to prospective members. Topping the list was “insurers’ special programs,” in particular the Progressive Concierge program presently operating in San Diego.
    The Collision Repair Association of California (CRA) has presented state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner with a six-point plan to protect consumers and restore fairness to the business of collision repair. The plan, detailed in a letter sent April 12, is in response to CRA’s March meeting with the Commissioner where he asked the association for solutions to reduce the friction between insurers and repairers.

  The CAA is requesting that the Department of Insurance aggressively enforce Insurance Code section 758 B (2) (c) that prohibits insurers from steering after the consumer has chosen a repair shop. The Department has previously indicated that an arbitrary cap by insurers is illegal. The CAA is asking the department to address and resolve this issue as soon as possible. The insurance code reads as follows:

 The U.S. Senate has passed the Minimum Wage Increase Act of 2007 by a vote of 94-3. This marks the first time the minimum wage has been voted an increase in 10 years. The legislation would increase the federal minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour over the next two years.
Thursday, 05 April 2007 16:06

50 000th I CAR point awarded in Texas

 Five years after admitting its first school into membership, the I-CAR Industry Training Alliance awarded its 50,000th I-CAR point to a student at a career and technical school or college.
 State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company announced in April it will pay $1.25 billion in dividends to its mutual auto insurance policyholders in 46 states, the District of Columbia and the Canadian province of New Brunswick.
 The ninth and last defendant in a staged auto accident insurance fraud ring was convicted of Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity in Dallas County District Court on February 27. Jerry Lockhart was found guilty by the court and placed on five years probation and ordered to pay $57,239.70 restitution to the victims’ insurance companies. Lockhart was involved in what may be one of the largest staged accident rings prosecuted in Dallas County.
 The Ecology Center, a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization recently released its second Lead-Free Wheels Survey of new vehicles. Lead wheel balancing weights represent one of the largest ongoing uses of lead in the world. The survey of new 2006/2007 model year vehicles showed that while many automakers have aggressively phased out lead wheel balancing, some automakers have made no progress (Chrysler) and zero aftermarket tire retailers have committed to phasing out lead wheel weights.
The Automotive Service Association’s Collision Division Auto Manufacturer Subcommittee has surveyed the major automobile manufacturers to determine each company’s requirements for collision repair facility certification.
 North State Custom of Bedford Hills, New York announced in February that a lawsuit has been filed in the Westchester County Supreme Court of the state of New York.
 Nobilas Claims & Fleet Solutions, an Akzo Nobel business unit, and Dent Zone International Inc., announced the formation of a strategic partnership to offer a managed paintless dent repair (PDR) program. The new service, Nobilas PDR, combines the accident and repair management of Nobilas with the paintless dent repair program of Dent Zone.

 Sen. Patrick Leahy, (D-Vt.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, has introduced the Insurance Industry Competition Act. This legislation would remove the federal antitrust exemption from the insurance industry. Currently, the McCarran-Ferguson Act protects the insurance industry from federal antitrust laws.

  Sen. Arlen Specter, (R-Pa.), Senate Judiciary ranking member, joined Leahy in introducing Senate Bill 618 – as did Sen. Harry Reid, (D-Nev.), Senate majority leader, and Sen. Trent Lott, (R-Miss.), Senate Republican whip.

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 A vehicle hits the Institute of Highway Safety bumper barrier. The results of the new crash tests reveal most car bumpers don't work in low speed crashes.

 Most bumpers on midsize cars do little to resist damage in the kinds of low-speed collisions that are common in commuter traffic and parking lots. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has released the first results of new tests that assess how well bumpers protect vehicles from expensive damage in everyday fender-benders.
Thursday, 05 April 2007 14:31

Akzo Nobel supports WIN as diamond sponsor

 Akzo Nobel will be the sole Diamond Sponsor for the Women’s Industry Network (WIN). The first association of its type for the collision industry, WIN will champion causes geared toward mentoring and networking women, a largely untapped employment resource for the collision industry. 
 Hyundai Motor Company named Akzo Nobel Car Refinishes as their first globally approved aftermarket supplier. The companies will merge competencies to develop the “Hyundai Dealership Global Body and Paint Strategy.”
 Sometimes the best way to look forward is to spend a few minutes looking back.
 That’s a concept that came to mind recently looking through a file of industry-related notes and articles from 15 years ago. What can the industry today learn from the ideas and topics being discussed then? What has changed – for better or worse – and are there areas in which virtually no progress has been made? And what should we be doing differently now to ensure we’re not just treading water 15 years from now in 2022?
Thursday, 05 April 2007 13:55

California faces stricter VOC regulations

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  BASF's Dave Brez speaks with one of the 300 invited guests at a March 28 panel discussion on changing VOC regulations in CA. Stricter regulations have been imposed by The California Air Resources Board to reduce the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released into the environment. This means a shift towards the use of waterborne paints to enable body shops to be in compliance.
 California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner praised Superior Court Judge Loren McMaster’s recent decision to uphold the Department of Insurance’s victory on auto rating factors. The judgment concerns the weight to be given to automobile rating factors in an insurer’s rating plan, amendments which went into effect last August.
 California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner recently announced the arrest of two suspects in connection with staging automobile accidents in California and filing insurance claims for medical treatment they falsely claimed to have received in other countries.
 The Collision Repair Association of California’s first Legislative Day 2007 at the state capitol in Sacramento opened the eyes of legislators and staff to illegal insurer steering practices.

California Governor Gray Davis has signed into law SB 1146, a bill mandating that the independent aftermarket will have access to service information and tools necessary to repair and maintain vehicles equipped with on-board diagnostic computers (OBD systems). 

The Quality Parts Coalition (QPC) has joined with CAWA in the growing consortium of independent parts and industry organizations, insurance companies and consumer groups working to preserve competition in the automotive collision replacement parts industry.
 
 

As part of its strategic plan to create an online community for commerce, Ensera, Inc., www.ensera.com, eported today that it has finalized a progressive partnership agreement with BASF's Automotive Refinish Group.

Ensera, the Redwood Shores, California-based company is a leading provider of solutions that automate the marketplace process for the automotive collision repair industry.

If you think the collision repair industry is changing rapidly, spend a little time talking with the owner of your nearby auto salvage yard: 

Seemingly conceding that its previous position on estimating system data was untenable, ADP announced in April it was putting on hold its plan to encrypt that data and make it unusable by unlicensed third parties such as Internet claims management companies. 

California State Senator Jackie Speier (D - San Francisco/San Mateo) predicted that "there will be a battle in the legislature over quality crash parts" within the next year and that she may be "promulgating rules on anti-steering," an issue on which she expects State Insurance Commissioner Harry W. Low to take an aggressive attitude. 

It is time for our community to call upon the true authority of the 1963 Consent Decree and utilize it as a tool to bring about a substantial change in the method in which consumer claims are handled in our collision repair environment. 

When Allstate Corporation last month acquired Sterling Collision Centers Inc., a consolidator with 39 collision repair shops in seven states and nine metropolitan areas, it started a shockwave that resonated across the industry with as much thunder as the State Farm non-OEM parts verdict. 

"If you're a good shop, you have nothing to worry about. If you're a bad shop, you have every reason to be concerned!" warned the California Bureau of Automotive Repair's Robert Trent. Trent, who works out of BAR's Oceanside office, was addressing the San Diego chapter of California Autobody Association at their July meeting. Trent and his associate Bill Neu discussed the BAR inspection program that began July 1. The inspection program was created by the Auto Insurance Fraud Act (SB 1998) of 2000. 

Friday, 14 September 2007 17:00

State Farm inks parts deal with OEMs

State Farm is jumping into the parts purchasing business.
    The insurer has negotiated a deal with some of the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), including GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, and Nissan, to reduce the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) on parts by three percent.
Friday, 05 September 2008 10:30

SEMA Applauds Breakthrough Chinese Laws

SEMA Manufacturers Now Able to Sell 500 SEMA Product Categories to Growing Chinese Market

New laws in China enable SEMA member companies to sell products legally, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. This historic announcement was presented during a recent meeting at SEMA headquarters in Diamond Bar, California, and was received with appreciation and enthusiasm by the association's leadership.

The major paint companies, struggling to overcome federal charges of price-fixing and their largely unsuccessful and expensive "shop investment" programs of the '90's are now focusing on "value added" shop management programs to attract and retain customers. 

Throughout the Las Vegas Convention Center the 35,000 attendees at last month's NACE seemed to be talking as much about the event itself as they did about the usual industry announcements, speakers and the "good deals" to be had on the trade show floor. 

On the heels of a federal antitrust investigation into price-fixing by paint manufacturers in the automotive refinish industry, at least four lawsuits have been filed around the country by paint distributors and body shops accusing the world's five largest paint makers of price-fixing. 

Auto body shops in California continue to get a black eye as the Bureau of Automotive Repair's (BAR) reinspection program picks up steam. A preliminary report issued in late January showed that 43% of cars inspected so far had evidence of fraud, with an average of $586 in overcharges for parts not used or labor not performed. BAR says that it has already inspected 507 vehicles and found evidence of fraud in 217, most often billing for parts not used or labor not supplied. 

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 California Autobody Association past presidents gathered at the annual meeting to honor the association's milestone year.  From left to right John Loftus, Kelly McCarty, Don Feeley,Jr., Maureen Holmes, Jack Caldwell, Rick Johnson, Chuck Bistagne, Ed Van Klavern, Russ Scamara, Ron Guilliams (seated),  Rick Reiss, Bill Rupp, Joe Boivin and Warwick Bryan.

Farmers Insurance is pushing to elect California State Assemblyman Tom Calderon (D-Montebello) as the new Insurance Commissioner of California, and to aid in that effort it is apparently soliciting campaign contributions from companies it does business with including its Circle of Dependability (COD) DRP shops. 

He laughs when he's asked about Progressive's "Concierge" program. His shop has participated in this DRP program's trial run since last fall. "It makes me think of a twist on that old Oldsmobile ad slogan: 'This is not your father's DRP'," said the second-generation East Coast shop owner who spoke about the Progressive program on the condition that neither his real name nor his business location (not even the state) be revealed. 

Listed below is the proposed act with the reasons for our opposition in italics. These are OKABA’s reasons for opposing. OKABA offers this report, so it is clear, OKABA’s decision is definitive.

The bill declares that Oklahoma vehicle owners should have the right to:

 The Right to Repair Act introduced in Oklahoma has stirred up support from CARE and opposition from OKABA towards the pending legislation.
 Democrat Lucky Lamons introduced House Bill 1584 in Oklahoma legislature on February 6. The legislation seeks to allow motorists to choose where, how and by whom to have their vehicles repaired.
 Sandy Bass-Cors, a representative of The Coalition for Auto Repair Equality, CARE, is in support of this bill. She said that independent collision repair facilities would benefit from this legislation.

With the November 2006 elections, the people have spoken and their voices are resonating throughout the corridors of Capitol Hill. The balance of power in Washington shifted from Republicans to Democrats for the first time since 1994. This dramatic change presents new opportunities and challenges for the collision industry.
Monday, 05 March 2007 16:47

WIN conference to unite industry females

A dynamic docket of topics and speakers are in store for those individuals attending the Women’s Industry Network (WIN) conference scheduled for April 29 through May 1 in Phoenix, Arizona.
    

The conference will cut across functional job lines and bring together female shop owners, technicians, and service and product providers for a series of inspiring speakers and informative seminars.

Allstate Insurance Company has announced that it plans to build six new Sterling/Allstate locations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. All locations will be new construction and be approximately 16,500 sq. ft. of office and shop area. Allstate currently has 39 other locations around the country and eight located in the Houston area. 

The push for VIN Disclosure legislation in 2007 took a major step forward with Senator Trent Lott’s (R-MS) introduction of the “Consumer Access to Total Loss Vehicle Data Act” (S.545).
    

The ARA said Senator Lott’s bill exemplifies his commitment to stem total loss vehicle-related fraud, theft and other illegal total loss vehicle activities, not only in the U.S., but worldwide. ARA applauds Senator Lott for his leadership in the effort to stem the abusive practices associated with title fraud.

The preliminary data from the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) auto body reinspection program that has found evidence of fraud in 43% of vehicles inspected is unlikely to change significantly when the final report is issued early next year, according to Dan Povey, the Sacramento-based program manager. "We have a solid six months of data in the computer. Based on my experience, the data from the first six months is usually indicative of what the final numbers will look like." 

Used or "recyclable" parts were the focus of discussion during a number of other presentations at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) held in mid-March in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Tuesday, 30 April 2002 17:00

GM says tests prove CAPA parts fall short

GM says its recent evaluation of fenders and hoods with CAPA stickers proved that they don't meet GM specs for fit, finish, material content and assembly characteristics. The GM hood was up to 40% stronger and 80% harder than the CAPA hoods.