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A committee of Oregon lawmakers last month said they like the concept of consumers being made aware of direct repair agreements between collision repair shops and insurers, but the details of how to accomplish that still needs some work. 

A bill introduced in the California legislature in February would establish a legal presumption that "certified" non-OEM crash parts are legally of "like kind and quality" to OEM parts. Assembly Bill 1163 (AB 1163) would also invalidate the current law that prohibits an insurer from requiring the use of non-OEM parts unless the vehicle owner is told of and approves the use of such parts on his car, replacing it with the requirement that the following statement appear on the estimate: "This estimate has been prepared based on the use of crash parts supplied by the manufacturer of your vehicle or certified aftermarket crash parts supplied by an independent manufacturer." 

Shop owners must remain ever attentive to legislation introduced to control aspects of the collision repair process. Provisions may be added to seemingly innocuous bills that can have devastating effects on how autobody shops do business. And a bill's sponsor can be a clue to the need for added vigilance.  

In the blink of an eye, it was all over but the shouting. With the ink barely dry on a letter of intent from Caliber Collision Centers to purchase 27 shops from the financially troubled M2 Collision Care Centers, the deal was dead. According to Caliber Vice President John Walcher, as the due diligence began, it became apparent that the deal would not be consummated and Caliber pulled out. At press time, unconfirmed reports indicated that Caliber had not purchased a single M2 shop, but was negotiating on the large, still unsold Santa Monica location. 

In a strong show of support for career and technical education, the Senate voted 99-0 to approve Senate Bill 250, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2005.

Here's your assignment: Pretend you have 45 seconds to talk about your business in front a group of people you'd love to have as customers. Could you tell them something that's unique about your business, something that no other shop in your area could or is likely to tell them? 

The multi-association task force created to address repairer concerns about how the estimating database companies operate reported on its early progress in April and defended its decision to include insurers in the process. 

A bill introduced in the California State Senate that was called "extremely bad for the collision repair industry" by the California Autobody Association (CAA) was effectively gutted in the insurance committee before being passed and sent to the full senate. 

With the growing number of insurance company direct repair programs - and with many insurers processing an increasing percentage of their claims through such programs - it's easy to understand why some states are looking to put the brakes on "steering" of work by insurers. 

Calling it "a piece of legislation as 'American as apple pie,' and one that is vital to motoring consumers and the five million plus Americans working in the automotive aftermarket," David Parde, the president of the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality, applauded U.S. Representatives Joe Barton (R-TX) and Edolphus Towns (D-NY) for re-introducing H.R. 2048: The Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act in the 109th Congress. 

The carcass of M2 Collision Centers, until last month the second largest collision repair chain in California and one of the largest in the country, has been thoroughly picked over. The assets of 26 M2 shops were sold as of May 31, with only the Van Nuys location's equipment remaining to be sold piecemeal when the dust had settled. 

The California Autobody Association (CAA) met with Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi early in August to discuss the enforcement of SB 551 (Anti-Steering Law) and the labor rate surveys that the Department of Insurance (DOI) have been receiving from insurance companies pursuant to Labor Rate Survey Insurance Code 758(c). 

Although the percentage of dealerships with body shops has declined over the past 30 years, a growing number of automakers are working to help dealership shops gain market share. How successful they will be remains to be seen, but independent shop owners would be foolish to ignore the threat - or possibly the opportunity - these efforts may offer. 

The California legislature has been busy with several pieces of legislation related to the collision repair industry. Activity is taking place on AB 1163, SB 98, and AB 79. 

Tuesday, 31 May 2005 17:00

Californian elected new ASA chairman

ASA held its annual business meeting in April in Fort Worth, Texas. The event provided a forum for several association leadership activities including open meetings of the ASA affiliate assembly and board of directors; a State of the Association address by Ron Pyle, ASA's president and chief staff executive; and the installation of the 2005-06 board of directors. 

Allstate Insurance Company has rolled out a new auto insurance plan - Allstate® Your Choice Auto Insurance, which the company says breaks the mold of products traditionally offered by many insurers by presenting consumers even more choices, innovative features and enhanced rewards for safe drivers. 

Allstate Insurance Company has rolled out a new auto insurance plan - Allstate® Your Choice Auto Insurance, which the company says breaks the mold of products traditionally offered by many insurers by presenting consumers even more choices, innovative features and enhanced rewards for safe drivers. 

Whether you knew it or not, the odds are good that already today you've contributed in some way - positively or negatively - to your company's "culture." 

Nearly one year after Allstate filed suit against the state of Texas to overturn H.B. 1131, the 2003 Texas law that regulates insurer ownership of collision repair businesses, testimony began in Allstate vs. Abbott. The trial began on September 20 in the courtroom of Judge Ed Kinkeade, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas Dallas Division. 

Texas Governor Rick Perry has named Mike Geeslin as the state's Insurance Commissioner. The commissioner oversees the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), which regulates the insurance industry. 

The International Autobody Congress & Exposition (NACE) announced that online registration is live and open at www.NACEexpo.com

The California Air Quality Review Board (CARB) is holding a series of public meetings to elicit feedback on its proposed statewide regulations for auto refinishing. The proposed rules would set a tougher standard for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) than are in place today and would standardize rules throughout the state. 

An article in last month's ABN discussed the value and importance of building a company's culture, a common understanding among all employees about "the way we do things around here." 


The Air Resources Board (ARB) is holding a second set of public workshops in Fresno and Oakland on the development of a Suggested Control Measures (SCM) for automotive refinish coatings. 

Volkswagen of America, Inc. will pay $1.1 million to resolve its failure to promptly notify the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to correct a defective oxygen sensor affecting at least 329,000 of their 1999, 2000 and 2001 Golfs, Jettas, and New Beetles, according to federal officials. This is the largest civil penalty to date for this type of violation. 

In an overwhelming 22 to 5 vote, members of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) Property and Casualty committee agreed to continue their effort to protect consumers from both the "car company parts monopoly" and "poor quality aftermarket parts." After hearing testimony from both sides, the group created a special committee to address the issues necessary to develop a model bill on certified aftermarket crash parts that could be introduced in state legislatures around the country. 

The California Department of Con-sumer Affairs' Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) has revoked the automotive repair dealer registration of California Collision Center, 3029 Enterprise Street, after an investigation found multiple violations of California law governing the auto repair industry. 

Mentors@Work is once again searching for the best of the best mentors in the collision repair business. The national mentoring organization seeks nominations from the industry for its annual "Mentor Of The Year" award. This award will be presented to the individual who has shown exceptional skill teaching and training new technician talent for the collision repair industry. 

The California Senate Banking, Finance, and Insurance committee heard testimony in July in Sacramento concerning Assembly Bill 303 (AB 303) - a bill that would allow insurance companies to take over as the customer in the collision repair process. 

Wednesday, 31 August 2005 17:00

Decrease in workers compensation filed rates

Workers' compensation insurers in the state filed rate reductions averaging -14.6 percent for policies incepting on or after July 1, 2005 bringing the cumulative rate reduction to -26.78 percent since reforms were enacted, stated Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi. In addition, the Commissioner called on insurers to pass on savings more quickly, noting that in 2005 the industry only paid 41 cents in claims for each dollar of premium collected. 

 ..and what men can learn from them

Attend any national trade show, conference or association event in the collision industry, and one thing is likely to become apparent: While men may still far outnumber the women, both the number and success level of women involved in the industry is growing rapidly.  

In an anticlimax second only to the Y2K debacle (remember - the hysteria over the new century), the Illinois Supreme Court overturned on a technicality the lower court decision in Avery vs. State Farm, the class-action lawsuit in which jurors found that aftermarket crash parts were not of like kind and quality to OEM parts and awarded over $1 billion against State Farm in October 1999. 

Wednesday, 31 August 2005 17:00

Public hearings set on labor rate survey

The California Department of Insurance (DOI) will hold two hearings regarding the adoption of proposed amendments to regulations interpreting and making specific provisions of Insurance Code Section 758(c). 

After last year's I-CAR 25th annual meeting, which very much focused on the training organization's successful history, this year's event focused more on the future than on the past 12 months, which one board member termed "its most challenging year ever." 

Wednesday, 31 August 2005 17:00

U.S. house passes association health plan bill

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that would allow business association members to purchase health care plans at lower rates. Association Health Plan (AHP) legislation, H.R. 525, passed by a vote of 263-165. 

Two lawyers and one medical doctor pleaded guilty in connection with an interstate staged auto insurance fraud ring involving more than 55 victims/insurance carriers both in Arizona and California. Over $2.5 million was paid out in fake insurance claims in an organized staged collision ring from 1993-2000. Investigators from the California Department of Insurance's (CDI) Los Angeles Urban Auto Fraud Task Force targeted the ring in 2003 dubbing it "Operation Rent & Wreck" and announced the investigations and arrests of 18 people. 

Attendees at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) survived the blistering Arizona heat in Scottsdale, Arizona, to see progress being made on many crucial issues. The Estimating Task Force, formed by AASP, ASA and SCRS at NACE in 2004, had plenty to report about getting results from the database providers. 

A number of dealership service departments, independent repair shops and other automotive businesses that have been the victims of thefts in recent months are urging other businesses in the industry to take added steps to protect themselves. 

Friday, 30 September 2005 17:00

Plan ahead to reduce the tax bite

Most people in the United States tend to associate the month of April with taxes. But in reality, there's a lot more you can do right now - prior to the end of 2005 - to reduce your tax burden come next April 15. 

Monday, 31 October 2005 17:00

Part 2 what should be in a personnel file

An article in last month's issue outlined why maintaining personnel files is so critical - and explained some of the items that should not be kept in the files. 

Are you ready for the "personnel file" challenge? How well can you answer these questions: 

Friday, 30 September 2005 17:00

Expanding your business - without DRPs

There's little doubt that much of the growth some collision repair businesses have experienced over the past decade has been fueled by insurer direct repair programs (DRPs). After all, the percentage of insurance-paid work handled through DRPs quadrupled - to more than 30 percent - between 1996 and 2002. Most major insurers are already well over that 30 percent mark - with some at 70 percent or more. 

Wednesday, 31 January 2007 17:00

Valspar recovers from Hurricane Katrina

On August 29, The Valspar Automotive Group experienced a direct hit from Hurricane Katrina at the facility in Picayune, Mississippi. In the days following the storm, the Valspar Refinish team set up operations in Grand Prairie, Texas and Corona, California to continue to service its customers. Employees worked tirelessly to get the facility back in order. The Picayune facility has resumed manufacturing operations.  
 

A special online database consisting of motor vehicles and boats affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita is available for the public to search in an effort to protect consumers from fraudulent sellers, announced Robert M. Bryant, president and CEO of the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). 

A committee of the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) is taking a different approach to the long-standing battle between shops and insurers over "featheredge, prime and block" by defining where body work ends and paint work begins. 

Monday, 05 February 2007 16:08

First crash tests of minicars

For the first time, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has tested the smallest vehicles sold in the US market, which gain popularity as fuel prices rise. Now these cars are rated for comparison of occupant protection in front, side, and rear crashes. The Nissan Versa earns good ratings in all three tests. Two other cars earn good ratings in front and side but not rear tests.


Crash test results indicate which vehicles in each weight category afford the best protection in real-world crashes, and this round of tests reveals big differences among the smallest cars. But results of real crashes show that any car that’s very small and light isn’t the best choice in terms of safety. Driver death rates in minicars are higher than in any other vehicle category. They’re more than double the death rates in mid-size and large cars.

Monday, 31 October 2005 17:00

CCC to be acquired by Investcorp

CCC Information Services Group Inc. (Nasdaq: CCCG), a leading supplier of advanced software, communications systems, Internet and wireless-enabled technology solutions to the automotive claims and collision repair industries, has signed a definitive agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of Investcorp, the global investment group. 

Acting on complaints from the California Autobody Association (CAA) regarding the need for explicit specifications for determining autobody labor rates, the California Department of Insurance (DOI) has become the first in the country to propose regulating how insurance companies conduct surverys to determine the prevailing labor rate. 

Spend a few minutes talking to another shop owner —no matter whether he or she is across town or across the country —and you’re likely to hear about some concepts and ideas that are being tried – or have long been found successful. Here’s a compilation of some ideas, tips and processes successful shop owners have recently shared.

Neither side in the case of Avery vs. State Farm is willing to cry uncle. 

Wednesday, 30 November 2005 17:00

AQMD fails to pass stricter emission rules

A rule that would prevent businesses emitting certain levels of toxins from locating near schools - Proposed Rule 1401.1 - failed to pass a vote by a quorum of the Governing Board during a hearing in early October. The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) tabled the rule until their meeting this month. 

Monday, 05 February 2007 14:59

MQVP files suit against Keystone Automotive

MQVP has sought at least $20 million in damages and other equitable relief on several claims filed against Keystone Automotive regarding their distribution of parts.

What do you get when you ask the industry to list what they see as the key issues they’d like to see addressed?


The leaders and participants of the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) conducted just that exercise in recent weeks, and ended up with a list of nearly 600 issues submitted by more than 150 representatives of the collision repair, insurance and related segments of the industry.

With the sluggish growth or even decline in sales many shops have experienced in recent years, the technician shortage and recruitment of employees have not been the troublesome issue they were for the industry during the late 1990s. 

Concluding well over ten years' debate regarding aftermarket crash parts, the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) unanimously adopted a "Resolution Regarding Motor Vehicle Crash Parts" at its annual meeting in San Diego, California last month. 

Monday, 05 February 2007 13:01

BAR restarts program to investigate repairs

In an effort to protect consumers and monitor the work of the body shop, BAR has enlisted an auto body inspection program to examine collision repairs in California.  Car owners who have been in an accident and had their cars repaired are eligible for a free inspection administered by BAR field representatives. The vehicle is examined for repairs performed properly and in accordance with what is listed on the consumer’s invoice.

Keystone Automotive Industries, Inc. announced in early December that the company and other respondents intend to contest portions of a preliminary ruling issued December 4, 2006, by an administrative law judge of the United States International Trade Commission in a complaint initiated by Ford Global Technologies, LLC against the company, another distributor and certain manufacturers.

In a move that some insurers believe could prove detrimental to Louisiana consumers and insurers, the Louisiana legislature narrowly passed a bill that would require all vehicles determined to be "total" losses as a result of recent flooding to be crushed.