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.
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.
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.
Three national collision industry associations are working together to enhance the accuracy and functionality of the estimating systems used by the collision repair community to fix today’s high-tech vehicles. The Alliance of Automotive Service Professionals (AASP), the Automotive Service Association (ASA) and the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) have teamed up to examine and enhance the content of the data found in the industry’s leading estimating systems.
A message to CCRE members
To all CCRE member shops, the following is an example of what CCRE is actively doing constantly on your behalf. The following response from CCRE was recently entered into the debate at the Ohio DOI, concerning pressure from insurers and imitation parts certifiers such as CAPA, to change the wording of existing Ohio Rules to eventually have imitation parts be considered the same as OEM.
CCRE actively opposed such changes when they were twice considered, on a national level, at NCOIL meetings. Now, it appears that insurers and their imitation parts certifiers are going to go to individual state legislators to try to accomplish this on a state-by-state basis. Ohio appears to be among the first states to be hit. Your state may be next. So, watch what’s happening in your state, and keep CCRE informed. Together we can keep this “mad dog” at bay.
I have a friend who made so much money in the body shop business that he had to retire because he was paying too much in taxes.
It was obvious my friend, whose nickname is Fast Eddie, knew how to make a profit. He made a profit in large part because he knew how to write an estimate. His goal was always to write a complete estimate from the beginning. He wrote every estimate himself, taking whatever time he needed—sometimes hours—to tear down the car. He ordered every part, including nuts and bolts, needed to fix the car. Once the estimate was written, he pulled the car out of his shop and stored it in a lot across the street.
Caliber Collision Center's Costa Mesa, California location was closed for a week by the California Bureau of Auto Repair (BAR) as part of a settlement agreement reached by Caliber and BAR following the BAR's allegations of fraud, gross negligence, faulty record-keeping, and failure to comply with the regulations of the Automotive Repair Act.
Jay Leno’s futuristic Eco-Jet will be on display at the March 28 panel hosted by BASF. Invited guests will have the opportunity to get a closer look at this rarity, which was painted with BASF waterborne product. Statistics show that California currently produces 20.7 tons of VOC emissions per day. The new state regulations have an overall goal of reducing these to 5.1 tons per day. BASF reported that their products will aim to help California achieve these goals by offering eco-friendly profitability to collision repairers.
Don Feeley, Russ Bogh and Kelly McCarty exchange a few words at the CAA annual meeting. Former assemblyman Bogh shared insights into his time in Sacramento during a speech he gave at the meeting. “You are a special interest in Sacramento,” Bogh told the delegates, “ and you need to make friends. It’s hard (for legislators) to say ‘no’ to friends.”
California Senator Jenny Oropeza has re-introduced the bill that prohibits the sale or transfer of a total loss salvage vehicle damaged from salt water. The bill is an effort to protect the California consumer, although auto body technicians would benefit due to inherent risks involved with working on these cars
The danger, explained in the text of the bill, stated, “vehicles that have sat in saltwater mixed with sewage can result in health risks. Hurricane floodwaters contain numerous toxins, including, but not limited to, raw sewage, E. coli, petrochemicals, human and animal remains, arsenic, and lead.”
Over 100 auto repair shops, including at least six body shops, have been sued as a group in Orange County for violations of the State's Business & Professions Code (which includes violations of B.A.R. regulations). The suit, Consumer Enforcement Watch Corp. v 7 Day Tire, Muffler & Auto, et al. was filed April 11 in Orange County Superior Court, Santa Ana. It alleges that the various defendant repair shops harmed consumers when they violated B.A.R. regulations including failure to renew their registrations on time, writing improper estimates, failing to secure proper approval for estimates, and failing to return parts removed from vehicles.
The California State Assembly Insurance Committee has passed by a bipartisan vote of 12-4 the Senate Bill that would make it illegal for an insurance company to have a financial interest in a body shop. Having earlier passed the full Senate (29-16), the bill will be read and likely voted upon by the full Assembly between August 6 and the end of the month. If passed by the Assembly, it will go to the Governor's desk and could become law on January 1.
The California State Assembly on August 29 turned down State Senate 1648, a bill that would have prohibited insurance companies from owning bodyshops and forced the Automobile Club to divest its interest in Caliber Collision Centers. This opens the door for more insurance companies to buy or take a financial position in collision repair facilities. Allstate has already announced that it intends to open 17 - 20 Sterling shops in California beginning next year.
Five major paint manufacturers and seven paint jobbers are named in a class action lawsuit for price-fixing in violation of State antitrust laws filed on August 15 in Los Angeles Superior Court. The action alleges that the paint companies and jobbers engaged in "horizontal price fixing and minimum resale price maintenance." The lawsuit covers the period from 1993 to the present and asks for class action status on behalf of 7,000 California body shops. It alleges that defendants "conspired to fix, raise, maintain or stabilize prices for automotive refinishing paint." The defendants include paint manufacturers PPG, DuPont, Sherwin-Williams and Akzo Nobel, together with jobbers D'ANgelo & Sons, Tri-City Paint Corporation, Finishmaster, Inc., Auto Color Specialists, Inc., National Oak Distributors, Inc., and Hayward Color, Inc.
The California salvage industry won what the collision repair industry couldn't; a partial victory in Sacramento with the passage of two bills - and the defeat of a third - that begin to level the playing field between licensed salvage yards and the gray market of automotive rebuilders that bids against them for wrecked vehicles.
The International Autobody Congress & Exposition (NACE) Town Hall will provide a forum for discussion and debate about some of the collision repair industry's hottest topics, including state and federal legislation regarding insurer-owned shops and right to repair, diminished value (DV) and post repair inspections, fraudulent practices, steering and what it means to repairers and consumers, the future of the industry -- image, technician shortage and the aging workforce -- and repair information availability.
Ten body shops were closed down and 35 people arrested, 29 of them body shop employees, in a Santa Clara County insurance fraud sting operation. The operation used an undercover agent who approached body shops in the Bay area and asked them to write inflated estimates so that minor body damage, often intentionally inflicted by the vehicle owner, could be increased to cover total repaint jobs and upgrades like spoilers or new seats. The Santa Clara District Attorney's office has issued additional felony arrest warrants. The sting operation was the largest of its kind in the nation, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
California Gov. Gray Davis signed on Sept. 23 the nation's first family leave bill, providing benefits for up to six weeks a year payable from the state disability insurance program to workers who must care for sick family members - children, spouses, parents and, in the case of gay couples, domestic partners. The family leave can also be taken to "bond" with newborn children, newly adopted children and new foster children.
Five body shop owners in Texas have filed suit against State Farm for damaging their businesses. The group, represented by Dallas attorney Christopher Davis, alleges that State Farm interfered with their businesses and acted unlawfully to restrain trade and commerce in the markets where the plaintiffs have (or had) their businesses.
Monday, July 29, Dave Cooper was working at his home office, planning events to celebrate the fifth anniversary of his PPG Platinum Distributor location in St. Louis, Missouri, when he received a call informing him that his store, Cooper Color, was on fire. When he arrived at his store 25 minutes later, he said, "I knew it wasn't good."
Holmes Body Shop, the largest independent chain of collision repair shops in Southern California, has settled confidentially the lawsuit brought against it by DuPont for breaching a contract to buy its paint from DuPont.
"Working Small and Effective" was the title of a class at the International Autobody Congress and Exposition (NACE) in Dallas, Texas in early December, but it could have been an apt theme for the event. Many wondered whether NACE would "feel the impact" (the actual theme of the show) of the five major paint companies being absent from the trade show floor. Indeed, attendance by both shops and vendors was down. (For details, see "NACE by the numbers".)
A Texas state senator promised at NACE in Dallas to introduce a bill in the Texas 2003 Legislature that would prohibit an insurance company from acquiring any financial interest in a collision repair facility and require that any insurer currently owning body shops divest their interest by Sept. 1, 2006.
A Texas appellate court's decision last month to slash a monetary award in the a major mold-related insurance claim case should have a positive effect on the state's insurance market and help quell the national mold hysteria it engendered, according to the Alliance of American Insurers (AAI).
The Texas legislation unveiled at NACE that would prohibit an insurance company from holding or acquiring an interest in an automotive repair facility was scheduled to be introduced in Austin as early as February 4, this according to Jay Propes, a legislative consultant in Austin who is working with supporters of the bill.
Caliber Collision is blaming the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) for the rash of lawsuits that have been filed against it and thousands of other auto repair shops based on violations of BAR regulations.
Owners of small businesses ranging from auto repair shops to restaurants and nail salons have been howling about the lawsuits being filed against them in massive numbers by attorneys who allegedly abuse a section of the state's Unfair Competition Law known commonly as the Private Attorney General Act (Business & Professions Code Section 17200). The attorneys can use Section 17200 to sue small businesses and then pressure them for a quick settlement. In the case of auto repair, over 2,000 mechanical and collision repair shops have been sued, many of them for nothing more than a technical violation of BAR regulations such as failing to renew their registration on time - matters which they have since corrected. While many call such suits frivolous, they can never-the-less be costly to defend, and many business owners have chosen to settle them.
Two bills that prohibit automobile insurers from having an ownership interest in an auto body repair facility have been introduced in the Texas legislature and appear to enjoy considerable support. Texas Senate bill 435, introduced by State Sen. John J. Carona (R-Dallas) on February 17, has 14 co-sponsors and has been referred to the Business and Commerce Committee.
A bill to strengthen the California anti-steering laws was introduced in the California State Senate by Sen. Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco) on February 20. The bill would prohibit an insurer from recommending that an automobile be repaired, or not be repaired, at a specific auto body repair shop, unless the claimant specifically requests a referral. It would allow a claimant or repair shop damaged by a violation of this provision to recover damages and costs.
Attorney General Bill Lockyer on February 26 filed a consumer protection action against the Trevor Law Group of Beverly Hills, alleging the firm committed unfair business practices in slapping thousands of small businesses with abusive lawsuits filed solely to obtain nuisance settlements and attorneys fees.
The State Bar of California announced in mid March that it has filed a petition to enroll inactive three attorneys from the Beverly Hills firm Trevor Law Group who allegedly defrauded small business owners under Business & Professions Code Section 17200.
When John Garamendi was campaigning last fall to be elected California Insurance Commissioner, he addressed the California Autobody Association and said one of his priorities would be to revisit and strengthen the Fair Claims Settlement Practices (FCSP) regulations - the regulations that govern how insurers must handle claims.
A Los Angeles County judge has dismissed nine lawsuits filed against thousands of LA County mechanical and auto body repair shops by the Beverly Hills law firm Trevor Law Group. The lawsuits enraged the defendant shop owners and caught the eye of the media, resulting in a myriad of actions begin taken by the State Attorney General, the State Bar Association and the State Legislature.
Texas House Bill 1131, sponsored by Reps. Kino Flores (D-Mission), Kenny Marchant (R-Carrollton), Joe Driver (R-Dallas), Allan Ritter (D-Nederland), and Rick Hardcastle (R-Vernon), now has over 80 co-sponsors. The bill will make it illegal for an insurance company to have any ownership interest in an auto body repair facility.
The proposed Texas law that would prohibit insurance companies from owning body shops took major steps forward in April, passing the Assembly (HB 1131) and securing enough sponsors to insure passage in the Senate, but ran into stiff opposition from Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, forcing a redrafting of the legislation into a more comprehensive bill, but one that would allow Allstate to keep its current Sterling Collision Centers.
The issue of reuse of non-deployed airbags from salvaged vehicles returned to the spotlight at the Collision Industry Conference in Phoenix in April with a panel discussion that included information on a program being developed to certify such airbag modules.
The California Senate Committee on Insurance has passed Senate Bill 551, a bill that would prohibit an insurer from recommending a motor vehicle be repaired at a specific shop unless the insured requests such a referral. It allows an insured or other claimant or repair dealer to recover damages, if harmed by a violation of this provision.
The Beverly Hills attorneys who filed over 2,000 lawsuits against auto repair shops and other small businesses in California, making headlines throughout the state and leading to calls for action against them by state legislators and an investigation by The State Attorney General, were placed on involuntary inactive status by the State Bar Court in late May. In other words, their licenses to practice law have been suspended as disciplinary proceedings toward possible disbarment continue. In its ruling, the State Bar Court agreed with its prosecutors that the lawyers had filed thousands of frivolous lawsuits with the intent of forcing quick settlements.
Bill Heard Enterprises, the world’s largest Chevrolet dealership group, employing approximately 2,700 people, announced on Sept 24 that it would cease operations at its 13 stores, almost all of which operated body shops. The 13 locations are in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Tennessee and Texas.
On Sept 29, Heard filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection blaming a ‘perfect storm’ that included fuel price increases and the Chevrolet product mix of trucks and SUVs. It also said 10 Heard stores had used floorplan loans from GMAC Financial Services, which GMAC pulled Aug. 21.
Bill Heard Enterprises’ dealership in Sugar Land, Texas, is also apparently closed.
None of the Heard dealerships is operating, attorney Robert Rubin said at the bankruptcy hearing Monday, Sept. 29. Rubin is a lawyer representing Bill Heard Enterprises.
The Texas Senate on May 27 passed House Resolution 1131, the insurer-owned repair shop legislation, by a unanimous vote of 31 to 0. On April 8, the Texas House of Representatives passed the bill by a voice vote.
Body shops and consumers in Texas have reason to celebrate! Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law on June 20 Texas House Bill 1131, the Insurer-Owned Repair Facility Legislation. Earlier, the Texas Senate passed the legislation by a unanimous vote of 31 to 0.
Late breaking news
The State Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) announced on July 2 that it has filed accusations against five more Caliber Collision Center locations, including El Cajon (N. Johnson Avenue), Riverside (Indiana Avenue), Costa Mesa, Chino and Murietta.