Tuesday, 06 August 2013 01:14

Auto Body Association of Connecticut Supports Members’ Concerns and Fights Unfair Legislation

Since 1968, the Auto Body Association of Connecticut (ABAC) has been fighting for the collision repair industry. While their focus has changed many times over the past 45 years, ABAC is still dedicated to preserving the integrity and independence of repair specialists throughout their state. Because there are currently so many important issues facing the industry, Tony Ferraiolo, President of ABAC, took time to share the association’s goals and stances with Autobody News readers.

Regarding their mission, Ferraiolo states, “ABAC continuously strives to educate the motorists of Connecticut and to enhance the abilities and knowledge of its members, through education, to provide safe and dependable repairs to the public. Through proposing and monitoring legislation, the ABAC endeavors to protect the best interests of consumers, its members and the collision repair industry.”

ABAC has many ongoing goals and projects in 2013. One of their primary focuses is on education. They strive to educate their members on industry-related issues and training, as well as promoting education on and protection of consumer rights. ABAC educates and trains their members on proper repair procedures, including the latest information from OEMs. Additionally, they protect the driving public with consumer advocacy groups which provide the necessary tools to allow the average driver to make informed decisions about their repair needs.

Another important goal for ABAC is related to legislation. In addition to supporting class action lawsuits when necessary, the association monitors current legislation, serving as a watchdog to expose insurers for violating fair trade practices and to combat legislation attempts seeking to limit the independence of collision repair facilities. Beyond education, ABAC’s current projects focus on ongoing legislative reforms by maintaining and improving communications with local, state and federal officials. They are currently in the process of pushing two class-action lawsuits.
When asked about the biggest challenges facing the industry today and possible ways to overcome these issues, Ferraiolo lists “the influence that insurance companies have in the auto body industry. Actions to overcome these influences include lawsuits (class action and individual), legislative reforms, and consumer education.”

ABAC does not approve of the PARTS Act because “the OEMs should have the same protection that’s given to any other parts manufacturer. We defer to the OEMs because it’s the safest, best way to repair the vehicle. The research and development that is put into the OEM parts should not be undermined. The PARTS Act will hamper innovative new designs and cause costs to be amortized over a short period of time, driving costs up. Therefore, we reject the PARTS Act.”
They also reject the Right to Repair. Ferraiolo notes, “We believe all information should be given out to everyone so as not to discriminate against any repairers. Information should be shared so that vehicles can be safely and properly repaired.”

Ferraiolo also believes “PartsTrader is bad for our industry.” In their press release on PartsTrader from September 2012, ABAC notes, “the endeavor is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is bad for repairers, part manufacturers, and most importantly, consumers. The only two enterprises in place to profit- and profit handsomely- are State Farm Insurance and PartsTrader.” It is clear that PartsTrader does not benefit repairers or consumers as PartsTrader’s model shows insurers collecting more premiums only to find ways to pay less on claims, which “is fundamentally corrupting both industries,” the press release continues.

Even worse, ABAC predicts that it is only a matter of time before other insurers institute similar programs to the detriment of the collision repair industry. This is the reason that ABAC refers to PartsTrader as “an embodiment of what’s wrong with the auto body industry and a harbinger of what’s to come,” which is why they encourage their members (and collision repairers nationwide!) to become educated on the program and stand up for themselves. “In light of the long-term damage this program will likely cause our industry, we are respectfully encouraging those of you who have not yet weighed in on this debate, to carefully examine the pilot program and voice your opinions.”

ABAC was formed in 1968 when around seven independent organizations joined together to form one association: the Auto Body Association of Connecticut.  At that point, ABAC was comprised of two officers from each individual organization who gathered for monthly meetings, but each organization continued to operate separately as well until around 15 years ago when all of those individual organizations joined together to strengthen ABAC. According to Ferraiolo, “because individual groups consolidated and became one, the organization runs more efficiently. The locals were able to concentrate on committees and, therefore, accomplish more for the association. There is strength in numbers."

While keeping their busy repair members engaged in the forefront of the industry, by participating in the latest developments, is always a challenge, ABAC rises to the occasion repeatedly. Other benefits of membership include group discounts, educational meetings and quarter meetings which allow members to stay up-to-date on the latest trends to maintain national awareness. Though ABAC has over 400 members, including honorary members, shops and vendors, they still strive “to grow and strengthen our membership to create a stronger association.”

Auto Body Association of
Connecticut (ABAC)
104 Cheshire Rd
Prospect, CT 06712

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