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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

California Senate Bill 869 was passed in committee (9-0) on April 25. The bill modifies the state's Business and Professions Code saying that a repairer 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 $5,000 or by one year in prison, or both. Existing law caps penalties at $1,000, by imprisonment not exceeding 6 months, or by both fine and imprisonment.

It is already fraudulent and a violation of the Automotive Repair Act to state on an invoice that an auto repair shop will repair or replace a part if it fails to do so. This bill strengthens the existing penalties on that violation specifically for airbags which are being replaced.

The Senate analysis of the measure suggests that possibly in the future some consideration should be given to strengthening the law even further. The analysis asks, "Should there be a requirement to repair or replace a deployed airbag?" Currently, there are no statutes requiring that an auto repair shop replace a deployed air bag, but the analysis suggests a law requiring that any vehicle entering an auto repair shop which has a deployed airbag must leave that repair shop in good working order.

A previous bill SB 427, tabled in 2009 would have established the same misdemeanor with the same penalties for a violation as this bill and would have additionally required the parts invoice for any replacement airbag installed to be attached to the final repair invoice. That bill was vetoed by the Governor, citing that it was duplicative of existing law and, therefore, added very little additional benefit to consumers.

The California Autobody Association (CAA) and the California New Car Dealers Association (CNCDA) opposed the 2009 measure citing the same administrative issues acknowledged by the Governor.

The CAA and the CNCDA support this new measure. The CNCDA states that it has had an interest in curbing the nefarious practice of parts switching and, therefore, support this bill since it narrowly targets the most egregious example of such conduct.

see previous story here

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.