Western News

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

Thursday, 23 September 2010 16:39

CAA Santa Clara Hosts Annual Trade Faire

Every year the CAA Trade Faire provides an opportunity for CAA members, vendors, body shop and dealership personnel to network, learn more about the industry and re-connect with old friends. On September 15, the CAA Santa Clara chapter’s Trade Faire was held at the Holiday Inn Airport in San Jose, Calif., an event that is more than 20 years old and unique to this CAA chapter in the Bay Area.

Dave Mello, the lifetime treasurer for the CAA Santa Clara’s chapter, was very pleased to see a good turnout for this year’s faire. “We had more than 160 members and associates and 38 vendors on hand to make it a great Trade Faire once again,” said Mello, owner of Andersen Behl Body Shop in Santa Clara said.

“It’s a great night, because body shop professionals and vendors alike can network free-form, as opposed to sitting at a dinner and listening to a speaker. This way, people can interact in their own way in an environment without a schedule or an agenda.”

Vendors featuring computers, software, frame equipment, paint, clips and hardware, legal aid, welders, infrared lamps, paint gun cleaners, car rentals, first aid supplies, radiators and more displayed their products and/or services at the CAA Santa Clara Trade Faire. More than $5,000 in prizes was raffled off during the event, Mello said.

In a legislative move that has split the two California collision repair associations, California lawmakers approved SB 427 (Negrete, McLeod) which redefines the term "crash part" and increases the penalty on the failure to repair and fully restore an airbag to original operating conditions. The bill was supported by the American Insurance Association (AIA). “AIA feels confident in the language and the protections it will offer our members’ policyholders,” said Gibford.

This bill would define and redefine "crash part," "aftermarket crash part," and "original equipment manufacturer crash part," for purposes of the act and the motor vehicle replacement part provisions.

The bill specifies that an automotive repair dealer who prepares a written estimate that includes replacement of a deployed airbag and who fails to repair and fully restore the airbag where the consumer has paid for the repair, as specified, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or both.

The bill would require the invoice for work done by an automotive repair dealer to describe all service work done, parts supplied, and crash parts installed. The bill would make a statement of legislative intent regarding this requirement.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a measure August 30 allowing tens of thousands more Californians with environmentally friendly cars to drive solo in carpool lanes according to reports made by the LA Times and 10 News San Diego.

Lawmakers worked late into the night August 30, the second to last day of the 2009-10 legislative session. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger took some action of his own, signing into law a measure expanding the list of environmentally friendly cars that qualify for permits to use carpool lanes.

The measure will allow up to 40,000 more California motorists to drive solo in the special lanes. It also extends the lifespan of existing permits for hybrid and electric vehicles. The bill, SB 535 by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by General Motors, would provide thousands of permits for new models of fuel-efficient cars.

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.