State Representative Kirk Talbot (R), chairman of the Louisiana House Insurance Committee, has sponsored a bill that proposes to prevent insurers from writing a first estimate based on photos.
The bill would also require shops to acquire the vehicle owner’s signed acknowledgment before using non-OEM aftermarket crash parts in a repair. House Bill 437 was pre-filed on March 29 and was formally sent to the House Insurance Committee the following month.
House Bill 437 states:
A.(1) No appraiser shall secure or use repair estimates that have been obtained by the use of photographs, telephone calls, or in any manner other than a personal inspection.
(2)(a) An appraiser shall not require the submission of photographs or videos in order to obtain an appraisal.
(b) An appraiser or an insurer as part of the appraisal process shall disclose to the owner of the vehicle that there is no requirement to submit photographs or videos in order to obtain an appraisal.
Regarding the use of aftermarket parts, the bill says, “At the time of delivery of the disclosure document required by Paragraph (2) of this Subsection, the insurer shall obtain a separate written statement, signed by the insured, acknowledging that the insured has received and understands the disclosure.”
In the event that a supplement is necessary, House Bill 437 would also require the insurer to “promptly inspect damaged vehicles prior to the repairs in question.” It also allows for that inspection to be made “by personal inspection or by photographs, videos, or telephonic means, except that a personal inspection shall be required in the case of disputed repairs.”
Doug Reed, owner of Complete Collision Centers in Baton Rouge and Zachary, LA, weighed in on how this bill could affect local repairers. “I agree that the initial inspection should be completed in person. Initially, I accepted virtual claims as they became more common because it had the potential to streamline the process, but we quickly found it was being used as a deceptive practice to minimize the severity of the damage, which deceives the customer for the sake of profits.”