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1HomePageMap small ne 0816Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine

New Jersey made massive change to the regulations for the personal injury element of auto insurance this month, with the intention of keeping rate increases under control, according to Live Insurance News.

The primary changes have to do with the ways in which a doctor will be permitted to bill for the treatments provided, and will recreate the way in which a claim that has been denied can be appealed.

While New Jersey has maintained its status among the more costly states in which to buy car insurance, its residents are paying lower premiums following former Governor James McGreevey’s changes, which were enacted in 2003 in order to encourage competition. However, more recently, rates have been climbing upward once more and officials are blaming personal injury expenses.

According to the Department of Banking and Insurance in New Jersey, in 2010, 97% of all rate increases were a direct result in an alarming increase in the personal injury claims being paid out. It also stated that $1.23 was being spent by insurers for benefits for every dollar that they made for personal injury premiums.

In response to more than 50,000 letters from consumers who support the Right to Repair legislation, the Right to Repair coalition announced August 3 it has submitted language to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office for approval as a 2012 ballot question. The coalition is still aggressively pursuing passage of its original legislation but the deadline this week for ballot submissions comes at the same time as the continued legislative push.

“As the original sponsor of the Right to Repair legislation, I intend to push as hard as I can to show my fellow elected officials that the current legislation is the best way during these challenging economic times to provide cost savings and convenience for financially-strapped car repair consumers,” said State Rep. Garrett Bradley (D-Hingham). “But, with the deadline coming this week to submit ballot questions for 2012, the coalition is doing the right thing for motoring consumers by keeping that option open,” Bradley said.

Consumers across the state visiting local mechanics or neighborhood parts stores have been filling out support letters and sending them in to their state legislators. While the possible 2012 ballot question would achieve the same goal of allowing consumers to have their cars completely serviced wherever they choose without being forced to go to one of the carmaker dealerships, one option filed with the Attorney General includes language different from the current legislation. The ballot language would require new car dealerships to provide all the necessary non-proprietary repair information directly to consumers at the time of purchase of a new vehicle. This would put choice and convenience directly into consumers’ hands.

The Coordinating Committee for Automotive Repair (CCAR) recognized a Philadelphia, PA, collision repair shop with its “GreenLink Shop” status on June 29.

The shop that received the recognition was Auto Show Collision Center.

The “GreenLink Shop” status promotes consumer confidence in local automotive repair facilities’ environmental and safety awareness and implementation, according to CCAR.

Repair facilities pursuing “GreenLink Shop” recognition must maintain high standards of excellence in environmental, health and safety practices in four categories.

The CCAR initiative recognizes auto service facilities and collision repair shops with separate criteria established for each type of business.

For more information visit

Additional need for Ecotec four-cylinder engines used in Chevrolet’s fuel-efficient cars and crossovers, including the all-new 2013 Malibu, is driving $65 million in new investment at plants in New York and Tennessee that will create or retain 163 jobs.

“GM is committed to investing in manufacturing and jobs in the U.S.,” said Cathy Clegg, vice president Labor Relations. “These investments in powertrain manufacturing technology will help us meet the growing needs of our customers for high quality, fuel efficient vehicles - both today and in the future.”

In Tonawanda, N.Y., additional capacity is being added for engines used in the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain crossovers that achieve 32 mpg on the highway and can travel up to 600 miles between fill-ups. GM is investing $33 million that will create or retain 100 jobs.

In Spring Hill, Tenn., the engine plant is adding capacity for direct-injection four-cylinder engines to support the acceleration of the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu. GM Is investing $32 million that will create or retain 63 positions.

The re-energized Lehigh Valley Collision Repair Association is serving eastern Pennsylvania, including cities such as Allentown, Easton and Bethlehem. The one-year-old group comprises 18 auto body repair facilities, jobbers, parts suppliers, information providers and rental car companies, says its president, Matt Dewalt, AAM.

“Our mission is to promote the professional image of our industry through safe, quality and ethical repairs,” explains Dewalt, vice president of Scott’s Collision Centers, which is celebrating its 40th year serving the Lehigh Valley.

“We want to educate and lead our members to better themselves by allowing the free exchange of ideas and assist with ongoing training,” he adds. “It is truly an organization made up of members who want to better our industry.”

His father, Scott, a past and current member of LVCRA, started their business in 1971, and today the two locations, in Easton and Stroudsburg, comprise 34,000 square feet and generate about $5 million in annual sales.

The original LVCRA has roots at least 50 years deep and was very active in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, sponsoring golf tournaments, hosting monthly meetings and holding I-CAR and other classes, Dewalt says. At the time, Scott participated with his early shop, but membership dwindled and meetings stopped about 10 years ago.

Keenan Auto Body, a multi-shop operation with businesses in Pennsylvania and Delaware, held their 12th Annual Charity Golf Outing on June 3. Keenan VP and COO, Michael LeVasseur announced the successful outcome of the outing.

“I am very pleased to announce that we have raised a record amount of $28,500 for the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House and the Russella Educational Fund. This was the first year that we chose more than one charity to name as the benefactor. $15,000 was earmarked for playground equipment for the PRMH located at front and Erie streets in Philadelphia Pa and $13,500 was given to the Russella Educational Fund, a fund set up for the children’s educations of Bernadette Russella, who recently lost her battle to breast cancer."

"This year’s outing was special”, stated Craig Camacho, Keenan Auto Body’s Marketing Director, “Bernadette LeVasseur Russella is the sister of Mike LeVasseur, Keenan’s VP and COO. It’s a great feeling when you can come together and help those who consistently
without fail help others. Mike is always there for everyone when called upon, it’s a trait his entire family lives by. I want to personally thank everyone that played a part and generously donated making our event a complete success.”