He insisted, “Consumers should be protected by state law and should not be subjected to unsavory business practices that can lead to catastrophic events. Automobiles are among the biggest purchases our constituents make. After a collision or damage event, Texans expect their vehicle to be repaired to its pre-accident condition. Repairs need to be made safely, using safe parts and by following safety procedures.”
Recounting his three meetings with the TDI in 2018, ABAT President Burl Richards told the committee, “We have exhausted every effort before we came here. We continually were told that the TDI has no jurisdiction.”
A key testimony was provided by Marcia Seebachan, one of the occupants of the infamous Honda Fit case of 2017, resulting in a $42 million verdict, who spoke about the importance of safe repairs for the consumer.
Both the body shop and the insurance company replaced the roof with a 3M adhesive instead of welding it into one of the appropriate places, where the OEM specified, she said. This deliberate choice is what cost her—both physically and financially, she added.
“It is exceptional that we’re alive today … The effects of the wreck on our health, marriage, family, careers and finances were devastating,” Seebachan said. “This pain was exacerbated when we were told that [our] CARFAX report was completely inaccurate and the car had in fact been repaired poorly before we owned it.”
During the hearing, Tuggle said the ABAT isn’t forcing body shops to do OEM repair procedures. However, she said, the shops that are taking the time to do them, deserve to be reimbursed.
“If we’re going to use aftermarket parts, then these parts need to be tested, so we know they’re safe,” Tuggle said. “Shops can make more money if they use an aftermarket part, but it’s not about the dollars—we need to know that we’re putting safe parts on our customers’ vehicles. Right now, the burden of proof on whether that part is safe or not is on the body shop and that’s not fair.”