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

Tuesday, 07 September 2010 17:47

AIAM Supports Agreement on CA Brake Pad Bill

The Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, Inc. (AIAM) supports passage of a bill by the California legislature to reduce copper dust from vehicle brake pads that can wash into urban watersheds. AIAM members worked closely with California lawmakers, industry organizations, municipal water agencies and environmental groups on SB 346 to find an approach to brake pad reformulation that protects the environment without compromising public safety.

“We believe SB 346 provides a balanced approach to achieving California’s environmental goals while maintaining vehicle brake safety,” said Michael J. Stanton, president and CEO of AIAM.

“Brake dust” can contain copper and other materials and is created by friction when the brakes are applied. SB 346, authored by Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), sets limits on the amount of copper used in brake pads starting in 2021. By 2025 there will be a virtual ban of the mineral. Owners of vehicles designed with brake pads containing copper will have access to replacement parts for the life of their cars.

“The bill establishes a challenging goal that we and our suppliers are committed to meeting,” said Stanton. “We thank Senator Kehoe for all that she has done to bring the various parties together on this bill.”

California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner is considering a recent court decision a victory for consumers, as a lawsuit that attempted to stop the Commissioner from protecting Californians in connection with the Executive Life Insurance Co. was dismissed by the Court, according to reports made by Insurance Journal.

Last year, the Commissioner denied a request for permission to buy a California insurance company from a foreign company whose owner is the defendant in a multi-billion dollar lawsuit brought by Commissioner Poizner.

The sale would have siphoned money out of the United States while a federal court is in the process of determining how much that owner, French company Artemis S.A., ought to pay in compensation for previous fraud, according to the Commissioner. The proposed seller in the transaction, Artemis subsidiary Aurora S.A., subsequently sued the Commissioner for denying the transaction. A court rejected that lawsuit.

“It’s my job to protect policyholders, and when I saw the harm this transaction could cause to former Executive Life Insurance Co. policyholders, I refused to allow it,” said Commissioner Poizner.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Charlotte Woolard rejected the lawsuit against Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, ruling that Commissioner Poizner acted properly when he denied approval of a sale transaction that had the potential to cause harm to former policyholders of Executive Life Insurance Co.

The suit is part of the on-going fallout resulting from the failure of Executive Life in 1991 and the massive fraud that was committed by French companies and companies owned by the French government in the subsequent insolvency proceeding.

The lawsuit concerned an attempt by Reassure America Life Insurance Co., a subsidiary of insurance giant Swiss Re, to purchase Aurora National Life Assurance Co. Aurora National is the life insurance company that was set up in 1992 to take over insurance policies from the insolvent Executive Life.

When it was established in 1992, Aurora National was purportedly owned by a consortium of French and Swiss companies. In 1999, the Commissioner learned that the ownership of Aurora National was a fraud and the true owner was a French government-owned bank, in violation of California and federal law.

The Commissioner sued in federal court in Los Angeles and recovered more than $700 million to date for former Executive Life policyholders. The lawsuit is still pending against one of the defendants, French company Artemis S.A.

While the Commissioner’s fraud lawsuit is pending against Artemis, Reassure America filed for permission to buy Aurora National from Aurora S.A. The timing of the sale would get Artemis’s share of the sale money to France, out of the reach of the Commissioner before he could obtain a judgment against Artemis in federal court. Artemis’ share of the sale will be paid to former Executive Life policyholders if the Commissioner wins his suit against Artemis.

The Commissioner denied the application on the grounds that the sale would harm former Executive Life policyholders and Reassure America demonstrated a lack of integrity in attempting to conclude the sale now, when it knew that harm would occur to its own policyholders.

Judge Woolard agreed, ruling that it was not an abuse of discretion for the Commissioner to consider the interests of Executive Life policyholders in his decision.

Thursday, 26 August 2010 18:50

San Diego CAA Talks BAR and Insurance Race

The San Diego chapter of the California Autobody Association met July 27 at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse in San Diego. The chapter was able to discuss the BAR code of regulations with guest speaker Peter Vann as well as David Jones’ campaign for CA Insurance Commissioner.

Peter Vann gave a presentation about codes and regulations pertaining to the use of aftermarket parts versus OEM parts and how to properly fill out estimation forms to coincide with insurance company standards. Vann also discussed the BAR equipment requirements for auto body shops, specifically equipment used for structural repair purposes.

The San Diego CAA held a fundraiser to benefit Jones at Parkway Bowl in El Cajon on August 13. PAW PAC is supporting Dave Jones’ campaign for CA Insurance Commissioner.

Dave Jones will be interviewed in the October issue of Autobody News.

Drew Ford in La Mesa, CA, held a free extrication demonstration and seminar on late model cars on August 5. I-CAR Instructor and Welding Specialist Toby Chess led the demonstration after giving a one-hour seminar on how to efficiently and safely cut through damaged and mangled late model and hybrid vehicles.

To view a PDF of this article please CLICK HERE.

Drew Ford put on the seminar for free in their collision center for any firefighters, EMTs, police and first responders that wanted to attend. The seminar was given free of charge thanks to seminar sponsors; State Farm Insurance, DuPont, Auto Club of Southern California, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, West Autowrecking, Ken Industries and the California Autobody Association.

“It’s self-serving; I know this training is necessary,” said Ted Stein, Ford Service Manager at Drew Ford, “These guys need to know how to cut apart new cars.”

Firefighters made up most of the crowd; the event had about 50 confirmed guests who had made reservation prior to the meeting but late comers without reservations were welcomed. San Diego area Fire Departments in attendance ranged from Campo to Elfin Forest.

“It’s hard to get vehicles in this condition to work with,” said Jack Glassford, an Elfin Forest Fire Department Volunteer. Glassford also said the types of vehicles advertised to be at the seminar were a real selling point for him to attend.

“My captain told me I should head down,” said Matt Faddis, a Viejas Firefighter.

The wrecked vehicles were donated from State Farm Insurance, Auto Club of Southern California and West Autowrecking. Several late model vehicles as well as two hybrids were available for attendees to practice cutting on.

“The structure of todays cars are radically different than anything you’ve probably dealt with,” said Ted Stein. Stein introduced Chess’ presentation and thanked firefighters who turned out to learn about new techniques in the industry.

Toby Chess’ presentation focused on how to work with high strength steel and some new electrical components found in late model cars, especially hybrid vehicles.

“Most of these guys have never had the opportunity to work on late model cars,” said Chess, who said he has taught more than 2,000 firefighters the techniques to quickly and safely work with new technologies found in late model cars in the last year and a half.

CDs of Chess’ PowerPoint were provided to attendees after the seminar. Chess’ presentation went over into how to completely cut power in newer vehicles, how to avoid the electrical components around a hybrid car’s battery and how to find the weakest spots on the frames of vehicles made with high strength steel.

“We put a lot of effort into this and we’re happy with the turnout,” said Larry Houk, Drew Ford Collision Center Manager and local CAA chapter president.

While all attendees seemed to understand the seriousness of the material Drew Ford also wanted to make it a fun night by providing a buffet-style dinner and raffle at the end of the night.

All extrication equipment was provided by Holmatro Rescue Equipment. More information can be found at

The Nevada Collision Industry Association (NCIA) was founded in 2004 to promote the interests of those involved in the business of repairing both mechanical and collision-related damage.

Autobody News talked with several of the members and officers to get a better idea of the issues facing repairers in Nevada.

“Although we don’t have separate collision and mechanical repair divisions, we try to represent the entirety of the industry, including paint companies, wreckers, glass companies and even those businesses that sell support services such as estimating software,” says Kurtis Rosborough, chairman of the NCIA and owner of Certified Autobody Center in southwest Las Vegas.

The NCIA holds quarterly meetings to discuss and take action regarding the direction of the association as well as schedules fund-raising events to supplement dues. In addition, the group regularly informs members of any new requirements by federal, state or local governments such as by the EPA and OSHA. Regular I-CAR training sessions are held, and guest speakers also appear at times.

A proposed crash tax ordinance before the Sacramento City Council sends a message that Sacramento operates like a small-town speed trap, gouging unwary non-resident drivers, according to Sam Sorich, president of the Association of California Insurance Companies.

Sorich intends to testify against the proposed ordinance, which was scheduled to receive a final City Council vote August 17 at Sacramento City Hall but was postponed until September 14, according to the Sacramento Bee.

The ordinance would impose a tax—or what the city calls a fee—on non-Sacramento residents who are involved in traffic accidents within the city limits. The fee would be imposed on at-fault, non-resident drivers.

“Sacramento is rightly proud to be the capital of America’s largest state. It should be welcoming with open arms those from outside Sacramento who work in the city and visitors from around the world.

“Instead, the city plans literally to add insult to injury,” said Sorich.

He noted that Sacramento, like most local governments, faces some tough economic challenges. But taxing out-of-town motorists—including the thousands of workers who commute into the city every day—is dreadfully wrong and unfair. The ordinance anticipates contracting with a third-party billing company that will bill insurance companies. The ordinance’s scheme is based on the notion that insurance companies will pay the bill.

“But the fact is that auto insurance policies were never designed to cover these fees. Therefore, many accident victims will be forced to pay the tax out of their own pockets. The fees could be $2,000 or more. For insurers who pay the tax, it represents an increase in costs—which in turn could affect rates for all drivers.

“One sure thing in all of this is that the billing company that gets the city contract will always get paid first. The billing company takes its cut. Then it sends the rest of the payment to the city,” Sorich said.

ACIC’s president pointed out that the city envisions that the billing company will determine fault. The decision of fault will be made by the same company that profits from the tax.

“Drivers won’t get a fair shake,” said Sorich. He added that the proposed ordinance is in effect double taxation. The emergency services are paid for with property taxes. Sacramento, as a result, will be double-dipping at the expense of motorists. For non-resident drivers who have accidents, its taxation without representation.

“The ordinance also could end up hurting and not helping the city. It anticipates additional revenue but fails to consider the amount of lost sales revenue when residents from surrounding areas and potential visitors decide to stay away to avoid being taxed for just being in an accident.

“The ordinance tells Californians —who come to work in Sacramento, who come to the city for recreation, shopping and entertainment and who come to Sacramento to visit their state capital—that they are second-class citizens,” said Sorich.