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Western News

1HomePageMap small w 0816Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in California, NevadaOregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Hawaii, Alaska and Wyoming

The Collision Repair Association of California met in late February with the Commissioner of the California Department of Insurance, David Jones and Teresa Campbell, Senior Staff Counsel, and Deputy Commissioner, Geoffrey Margolis.

In February this year, California Senator Noreen Evans introduced legislation expanding the Insurance Commissioner’s restitution authority which at present is only allowed in limited circumstances. Simply put, SB 631 would grant explicit authority to the state Insurance Commissioner to order restitution as part of an administrative enforcement action against an insurance company. The new powers could be used to punish broker-agents and other licensees in all instances where the Commissioner finds any violation of the California Insurance Code.

The expanded authority would protect consumers from what Senator Evans described as the “David and Goliath” dynamics that can occur when a consumer seeks repayment of monetary losses or out-of-pocket costs associated with wrongful insurance company conduct.

SB 631 would allow the Commissioner to “impose upon an insurer, licensee, or other entity or person subject to the commissioner’s authority specified remedies, either by way of settlement or following a hearing, whenever the commissioner finds that there has been a violation of an applicable insurance provision.”

The California Autobody Association (CAA) held its Quarterly Delegates meeting in Sacramento on March 11 and 12.

Let’s say your car is damaged in an accident and you’re properly insured. Most policies say that an insurer can either pay for the repair or fix the vehicle. You feel that the vehicle is too badly damaged and you want the money so you expect your insurer to total the vehicle and give you a check.

The California/Nevada/Arizona Automotive Wholesaler's Association (CAWA) sponsored gubernatorial proclamation that recognized the contributions of the aftermarket industry provides to consumers was passed and signed by Arizona Governor Janice Brewer last month.

In February this year, legislation to quintuple the monetary fines (to $5000) and double the jail time (to a year) that may be levied on any automotive repairer that fails to properly replace a deployed airbag was introduced by California State Senator Leland Yee.

Existing law provides that a person who fails to comply is guilty of a misdemeanor and punishable by a fine not exceeding $1,000, by imprisonment not exceeding 6 months, or by both fine and imprisonment. This bill would provide that an automotive repair dealer who prepares a written estimate for repairs that includes replacement of a deployed airbag, as specified, who fails to repair and fully restore the airbag, as specified, is guilty of a misdemeanor that is punishable by a $5,000 fine, by one year imprisonment in a county jail, or by both fine and imprisonment.

The bill has been assigned to the Senate committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development. The hearing is scheduled to be held on Monday, April 25 at 1:30 p.m. in Room 3191.

The full text of the bill follows:

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1. Section 9884.76 is added to the Business and Professions Code, to read:
9884.76. Notwithstanding Section 9889.20, an automotive repair dealer who prepares a written estimate for repairs pursuant to Section 9884.9 that includes replacement of a deployed airbag that is part of an inflatable restraint system, and who fails to repair and fully restore the airbag to its original operating condition, where the customer has paid for the airbag as provided in the estimate, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of five thousand dollars ($5,000) or by imprisonment in a county jail for one year or by both that fine and imprisonment.

SEC. 2. No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.

Because this bill would create a new crime, the bill would create a state-mandated local program. The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement. This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.