The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of Massachusetts (AASP/MA) announced they met with legislators on Sept. 9 for an in-person discussion on the association’s ongoing efforts to address issues within the Auto Damage Appraiser Licensing Board (ADALB) via Senate Bill 182.
Executive Director Evangelos “Lucky” Papageorg and board members Ray Belsito (Arnie’s Auto Body, Charlton) and Joshua Fuller (Fuller Auto Body, Auburn) welcomed Senator Michael O. Moore (D-2nd Worcester), Representative Peter J. Durant (R-6th Worcester) and Representative Paul K. Frost (R-7th Worcester) to Fuller Auto Body. The gathering followed a Sept. 2 meeting between AASP/MA representatives and Senator John F. Keenan (D-Norfolk and Plymouth) at association member shop Total Care Accident Repair (Rayham).
S.B. 182 aims to move the ADALB from the Division of Insurance to the Division of Professional Licensure (where all other professional licenses in the state are maintained). The bill’s purpose aligns with Governor Baker’s executive order “to ensure proper review of the regulation of professional licensing by independent boards.” Additionally, the bill seeks to expand the size of the ADALB by two members, both appointed by the Attorney General, and replace the current board chairman, appointed by the Massachusetts commissioner of insurance, with one appointed by the Commissioner of the Division of Professional Licensure (who has no affiliation with insurance or automotive collision repair).
At the Sept. 9 meeting, Papageorg explained to the legislators that the bill’s passage removes the possibility of “partisan voting” by the ADALB. Currently, ADALB meetings are held at the Division of Insurance, where the chairman is appointed by the commissioner of insurance. Two insurance industry representatives are appointed to the board by the Governor. The Division of Insurance is also represented by legal counsel, who has no vote but comments regularly on board matters, at these meetings. Additionally, the board’s secretary (who does not have a vote) works for the Division of Insurance. This creates a situation, AASP-MA says, where there are five individuals representing the insurance industry versus two members of the auto body industry on any issue. Papageorg argued that this creates a three-to-two vote setup when considering there are only two collision repair industry representatives appointed by the Governor to serve on the board.
Considerable time was also spent educating the legislators on some of the collision repair industry’s more common grievances with the ADALB’s current methods for addressing complaints, including that it has at times taken years for them to be heard.
“There have been reprimands put in people’s files, but there has never been a license revoked – even temporarily – by the board,” said Papageorg. “I think that speaks volumes, because there have been a lot of issues that have been brought up that should have brought about at least the minimum suspension of a license just to make the point.”
Formerly a regional manager for Liberty Mutual and now a shop owner, Belsito noted that the ADALB needs to be strengthened to promote suitable negotiations between shops and insurers, especially when a carrier is insisting on the use of certain parts that could pose a safety risk to vehicle occupants.
“The insurance industry, left unfettered, resorts to what I call ‘the used car auto body repair manual,'” said Belsito. “One of the issues that came up in front of the board was the use of used suspension parts. There is no way to measure how worn these parts are or the damage [to them] if [the prior vehicle] was in an accident. That was something that the insurance industry wanted to start to use. That’s the kind of thing we’re dealing with.”
Fuller noted that a revamped ADALB is necessary to address appraisal issues that have occurred since the rise of remote negotiations via photos in light of COVID-19. He called into question whether some of the individuals doing the negotiating are even licensed in the state.
Papageorg was pleased that AASP/MA had an opportunity to share its efforts with the legislators in attendance.
“Everyone was receptive to the issues we presented,” he said. “We hope to continue having conversations of this nature as we push for legislation that will ensure a more functional ADALB and better consumer protection for vehicle owners in Massachusetts.”
Encouraged by the positive response, Papageorg urges other members of AASP/MA to host similar events with legislators in their markets to promote passage of S.B. 182.
For more information on AASP/MA, visit aaspma.org.