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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

Consumer Watchdog says it has "heard from consumers who felt they were mistreated by Los Angles-based Mercury Insurance Company. Our advocates and attorneys have observed Mercury's efforts to cheat consumers and avoid accountability through the Legislature, before state insurance regulators, and in the courts. For these reasons, Consumer Watchdog believes that consumers cannot trust Mercury Insurance. Here are the top 10 reasons why you cannot trust Mercury."

Opponents of Assembly Member Mary Hayashi’s (D-Hayward) auto insurance industry-sponsored legislation, A.B. 1200, released a set of documents today they claim show the intent of Hayashi’s bill is profit for insurers, not consumer information or safety.

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click for link to Consumer Watchdog Floor Alert and Mercury Insurance and AIG documents

On Aug. 25, Mary Hayashi chaired a hearing of the State Assembly to investigate fraud in the auto body industry in California. The hearing is closely related to AB 1200, which narrowly failed on the Senate floor during a 19-17 “Aye to Noe” vote on Aug. 24. Even though the vote was 19 in favor, the bill needed a 21 vote majority to pass. The bill was approved  for “reconsideration,” which means it can either be voted on again, or it dies. This bill was also taken out of order. Insurance companies are lobbying very hard for this bill.

Bill Status: AB 1200 (Hayashi) was narrowly defeated on the Senate floor on August 24th. But, the bill was granted reconsideration, so victory is not yet assured. The legislation passed the Senate Banking, Finance, and Insurance Committee by a vote of 8 to 1, with 3 abstentions on July 9th.

Unfortunately, AB1200 has been subject to a disinformation campaign led by those who have a vested interest in not allowing insurers to discuss these options with their claimants. These include trial lawyers who sometimes file questionable or frivolous lawsuits related to auto body shop repair.”

—Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi

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In a piece written for the San Francisco Chronicle Open Forum on Aug. 19, Hayashi (photo left) asserted that AB1200 was under attack from a “disinformation campaign.” When looking at the facts of the bill it becomes clear that there is an abundance of disinformation on the bill, largely emanating from Assemblywoman Hayashi and the bill’s insurance company bankrollers.

The Bill

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi has authored a bill (AB 1200) that is meant to undo California’s anti-steering consumer protections. Hayashi’s bill is sponsored and supported by the auto insurance industry. The insurance industry supporters maintain that this bill allows insurance companies to better inform their policyholders about the benefits of DRPs. Uniformly opposing Hayashi’s bill are consumer advocacy groups.

The author of AB 1200, a bill that would make it easier for insurers to steer customers,  will chair a legislative hearing on auto body repair fraud on Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at 2 pm in Room 126 of the State Capitol, Sacramento. The CRA---which is opposed to the bill---will request an opportunity to testify before the bill’s author, Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi who runs the powerful Assembly Business and Professions Committee.

“We resent the tone of the author who [implies] that insurers need more control over the repair process because there are too many dishonest collision repairers,” stated Lee Amaradio, CRA president. “ We applaud Congresswoman Jackie Speier for standing in opposition to Assemblywoman Hayashi’s special interest effort to reward insurers by giving them a blank check to strong arm claimants through the claims process. “ Amaradio is asking CRA members to come to the hearing to address any untruths that might be foisted upon committee members.  CRA will issue updates on the hearing on August t as they occur.