Tuesday, 08 September 2020 16:42

AASP/NJ Meets With Legislators and Industry Reps on Claim Settlement Issues


On Aug. 28, representatives from the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey (AASP/NJ) joined Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer, R-Burlington, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean, Assemblyman Jon M. Bramnick, R-Morris, Somerset and Union, and representatives from the Insurance Council of New Jersey for a special virtual meeting to discuss a host of issues between the collision repair and automotive insurance industries.

The meeting was organized in response to a letter sent to the legislators by AASP/NJ Collision Chairman Dennis Cataldo Jr., of D&M Auto Body in Old Bridge, calling for assistance in addressing insurer-related issues, including constant violations of Title 11 of the New Jersey Administrative Code, Unfair Claims Settlement Practices and lack of care or responsibility when trying to negotiate a fair claim settlement for a properly and safely repaired vehicle.


The letter stated AASP/NJ had already made numerous unsuccessful attempts to work out these matters through the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance and the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.


AASP/NJ Executive Director Charles Bryant explained although there are regulations governing auto physical damage claims and unfair claim settlement practices in the state, insurers are not subject to a private right of action to hold them accountable if they violate them.


This only leaves the option to make a complaint with the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance. However, the department will only act once it has received enough complaints to show a general business practice.


To illustrate a remedy to this problem, the AASP/NJ representatives discussed the association’s ongoing support of the New Jersey Insurance Fair Conduct Act (A1659). Co-sponsored by Dancer, the legislation would establish “a private cause of action for first-party claimants regarding certain unfair or unreasonable practices by their insurer.” Additionally, successful claimants would be entitled to, among other things, reimbursement for their loss and court and attorney’s fees.


According to AASP/NJ President Jerry McNee, of Ultimate Collision Repair in Edison, insurance representatives who attended the meeting expressed intentions to work to block passage of legislation of this nature. Despite this pushback, he believes the bill would provide a level playing field between shops and insurers in their legal obligations.

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