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Below is a draft of the speech given by Kerry Soat to the Arizona House of Representatives Banking and Insurance Committee regarding House Bill 2463. Cindy Ketcherside and Rex Alltree also spoke on House Bill 2464, with regards to eliminating the $0 deductible from the Arizona Law. 

Whittier attorney John David Munoz, 42, was arrested this morning at this residence on felony auto insurance fraud charges for allegedly fabricating facts surrounding the destruction of his vehicle.

In California Second Appellate District, a shop owner’s claims of unfair business practices on the part of two major insurance companies in their labor rate surveys, have been denied on appeal, upholding an earlier court decision.

The Automotive Service Association of Arizona (ASAAZ) was founded in 1963 to help automotive shop owners statewide through resources, training, legislation and representation, networking, communication efforts and more. The ASA of Arizona is affiliated with the Bedford-Texas-based national ASA, which is the largest not-for-profit trade association of its kind serving automotive service professionals.

With the help of a Phoenix TV station’s consumer crew, a Phoenix photographer, Mark Lane, has obtained a reduction on a $1,300 shop storage bill  accrued while the at-fault driver’s insurer, Infinity, waited to resolve the claim with the insured. The crash occured when the insured driver ran a red light. “Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a car in the number three lane blow right through the light,” Lane said.

California Attorney General “Jerry” Brown Jr. announced on Jan. 25 a $1.8 million settlement preventing Maurice Irving Glad, owner of 22 Midas auto shops throughout California, from owning or operating an auto repair shop in the state, after the franchisee “deceptively lured” customers with cheap brake specials and then charged hundreds of dollars for unnecessary repairs.

An L.A. City Council decision to ban new auto-related business from opening in the area and force existing shops to come up to code has stoked debate about what exactly belongs in Cypress Park and adjacent Glassell Park.

CLICK HERE for LA Times Story

CAA asks members to file complaints with CDI

The California Autobody Association (CAA) is considering petitioning the California Department of Insurance (CDI) regarding at least two insurer’s labor rate surveys that CAA believes do not comply with current regulations.

Wednesday, 09 December 2009 09:38

State Farm Denies Steering Allegations

Bob Devereux, public affairs assistant manager for State Farm California Media Relations, specifically addressed G&C Autobody owner Gene Crozat, who has alleged in a public meeting (see Autobody News, Dec. 09) that a class action lawsuit is necessary to stop State Farm from steering customers in California.

AQMD to begin issuing permits after Jan. 1

Hundreds of Southland businesses and public utilities forced to delay plans to expand, modernize or relocate can move forward after Jan. 1, 2010 now that Gov. Schwarzenegger has signed a bill lifting an air quality permit moratorium.

AB 1200 was passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor at the last possible minute on Oct. 11. We were hoping for a different outcome, however, it is not the end of the world. The insurers presented this bill as consumer protection necessary to allow consumers to make an informed choice regarding collision repairs covered under insurance policies and it would be done in a specific truthful non-deceptive manner. This is their language and we as an association are prepared to hold them to that standard.

After luke-warm opposition from California body shops, and disappointment from the two auto body associations, AB1200 was signed into law by the governor on the last possible day, Oct. 11.

The California Autobody Association (CAA) has been in contact with various regulatory agencies and recently attended a meeting concerning inspections of auto body shops in Sacramento and San Jose by the Economic and Employment

The Boyd Group Inc. (“Boyd Group”) has acquired Advanced Auto Body’s Anthem, Arizona location, which will now operate under the Gerber Collision & Glass trade name. This acquisition was completed on October 6, 2009. The new location is approximately 16,200 square feet in size, and is well located to help serve consumers and insurance clients in the growing north suburban Phoenix market.

Rachel Oroz says bravely that she has leukemia, leukemia doesn't have her. You would never know from her big smile, dedicated work ethic and positive attitude, that she even has leukemia.

The Assembly approved AB 1200 (Hayashi) 42-19 on September 9, 2009. The bill now goes to the Governor for his consideration. The CRA will ask him to veto the measure because it will hurt the independent collision repair shops that already suffering during the economic downturn while depriving claimants the benefits of a repair analyses based on the right thing to do, not the cheapest way to go.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009 16:56

CAA Says "Help Stop More Tax Increases"

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. 

Wednesday, 16 September 2009 16:53

CAA Benefit: Tiger Gas

Effective Sept. 16, Tiger Natural Gas Company has partnered with the California Autobody Association (CAA) on a Third Party Natural Gas Program to benefit its members.

Friday, 11 September 2009 09:40

LAST Chance---A Veto on AB 1200?

AB 1200 (Hayashi) narrowly passed in the CA Assembly the evening of Sept. 10 by a vote of 41-19.

The bill is now on the governor's desk awaiting his signature or veto.

AB1200 would allow insurers to legally steer customers even after they have specifically chosen a body shop.

Both California body shop associations and many consumer groups are urging shop owners and consumers to call, fax, and email their opposition to AB1200 to the governor and ask for a veto:

The LA Times is reporting that AB 1200 will likely be approved by the California Assembly, based on the Assembly passing a previous version, and will likely go to the Governor next week.

LA Times Story

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.

click for story

click for link to Consumer Watchdog Floor Alert and Mercury Insurance and AIG documents

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

Image

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.

The Bill

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.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009 11:56

CAA Legislative Bill Update

The California Autobody Association wants to update collision repairers of the legislative work CAA is active in on behalf of all repairers. Join the organization and contact your representatives!

The Califiornia Department of Insurance has announced the arrest of a Sacramento Area Family for Alleged Auto Insurance Fraud

Monday, 10 August 2009 07:32

AB 1179 is signed into California law

AB 1179 is by Assemblyman Dave Jones (D-Sacramento) was among 128 bills signed into law Aug. 6 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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.

The CRA continues to oppose the insurance industry’s AB 1200 which has been rewritten to do more damage to the state’s anti-steering law. The bill is slated to be heard Wednesday, July 1, 2009 by the Senate Banking, Finance and Insurance Committee at 1:30 p.m. in Room 112 of the State Capitol. At this late date members should email their opposition to the committee’s consultant: Kenneth.cooley@sen.ca.govThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
Attached below is the bill followed by the CRA’s latest letter of opposition.

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.

CAA active in supporting SB 696

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 (CAA) testified in front of the Senate Business and Professions Committee against Senate Bill 427 on April 14.

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.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009 09:55

Rich Evans Takes ICAR Waterborne Class

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.

The CRA applauded its members and California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner for slapping GEICO with a show cause order on steering and underpayment issues on March 10.

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.
 

Good news for California hot rodders

click for story

Hearing set for Feb. 25

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.

Monday, 02 February 2009 10:07

EUROPA PRODUCTS

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!!