Unfortunately, there’s a growing, hidden monopoly forming in the auto parts industry and most people are unaware that it will directly affect their ability to repair their cars after an accident. If left unchecked, this burgeoning monopoly will drastically impact how much money Rhode Island consumers will have to pay---either through higher insurance costs or out-of-pocket expenses---to get their cars repaired to pre-accident conditions.
With the introduction of Senate Bill 2679 and House Bill 8013, local special interest groups are attempting to extend from 36 months to 48 months the period of time in which Rhode Islanders have no option to choose alternative collision repair parts. Put simply, these bills would take away your choice about how to repair your vehicle.
Alternative collision repair parts supplied by members of the Automotive Body Parts Association (ABPA) have been providing consumers a high-quality, less expensive option compared with expensive car company brand parts for more than 60 years. These parts keep collision repair costs down and help reduce insurance premiums.
On average, alternative collision parts are 25 to 50 percent less expensive than the car company parts. ABPA members selling these replacement parts have helped drive down the prices of car company parts just by introducing alternative versions into the marketplace. In addition, many of these quality parts are certified by either NSF or the Certified Automotive Parts Association and come with a lifetime warranty by ABPA distributors.
As a Rhode Island resident and executive director of the ABPA, I am concerned that these efforts to reduce consumer choice will lead to higher repair costs and higher insurance premiums for Ocean State vehicle owners. It’s already expensive enough to own a car here, and adding even higher insurance and repair costs into the mix is simply not acceptable.
If these special-interest groups have their way, competition in the collision repair parts market may eventually disappear---leaving Rhode Island vehicle owners with no options. Imagine if the same thing happened in the prescription drug market. Many consumers would be forced to buy only expensive brand name drugs rather than saving money with affordable generic counterparts. That’s why competition is so critical.
The General Assembly should stand with Rhode Island consumers, choice, competition and lower costs by rejecting Senate Bill 2679 and House Bill 8013.