ABAT Educates Legislators on Safe Repairs

ABAT Educates Legislators on Safe Repairs

Collision repairers from all over the Lone Star State showed up in Austin on Feb. 23 to educate legislators on ABAT’s Safe Repair bill and Fair Appraisal bill. 

The Auto Body Association of Texas (ABAT) announced that collision repairers from all over the Lone Star State — including two technicians from El Paso who began their nine-hour drive at midnight — showed up in Austin en masse on Feb. 23 to educate legislators on ABAT’s Safe Repair bill (H.B. 1321) and Fair Appraisal bill (H.B. 1437). 

ABAT planned its 2023 Collision Day at the capitol with the goal of explaining how “passing ABAT’s bills would greatly enhance the safety of Texas consumers by bringing attention to some matters we feel should be addressed,” says ABAT President Burl Richards.

“We aren’t just body shop owners; we’re their constituents, and we’re asking them to help us,” said Richards. “Shops are responsible for repairing these vehicles, yet insurance companies — that are merely a third-party payer — want to dictate the repair process to us when they aren’t the ones liable for unsafe repairs. The insurers are only interested in their own profits, and that’s also why they want to remove the appraisal clause from their policies, preventing consumers from being able to have a fair method for value disputes with their carrier. Both of these bills are designed to address safety issues for Texas drivers, and ABAT thought it was really important to make sure our legislators were fully aware of these issues so they understand why they need to vote in favor of H.B. 1321 and H.B. 1437.”

Nearly 30 participants from ABAT and Texas Watch traveled to Austin to voice their support for the two bill. H.B. 1321, the most recent iteration of ABAT’s Safe Repair legislation, seeks to require proper repairs based on OEM-recommended processes, in addition to addressing the differences between original and aftermarket parts. The bill (available in its entirety here) also attempts to eliminate the “gray” areas as to what a proper repair is and how insurers indemnify policyholders. H.B. 1437, ABAT’s second pass at an appraisal clause bill, would require insurers to include “right to appraisal” in all policies.

ABAT and Texas Watch spent the day “visiting nearly 150 legislators’ offices and attending over a half dozen meetings we had scheduled in advance,” according to ABAT Executive Director Jill Tuggle.

“Advocates for our two bills split into 10 teams to cover as much ground as possible, passing out flyers that described both bills in an easy-to-understand way as well as pamphlets from Texas Watch that contained testimony from consumers who have been impacted by the appraisal process,” Tuggle said. “I believe everyone we’ve spoken to now has a better understanding of why we’re so passionate about our legislation.”

“Every office was very receptive when I made the rounds with Ware Wendell (Texas Watch), a couple board members and a technician from El Paso,” said Richards. “I think legislators really enjoyed hearing the perspective of the technician who told them he can’t perform a truly proper repair when the insurer won’t pay for it, and that just ain’t right … it hurts the vehicle owner and creates the potential to hurt others on our roadways.”

Added ABAT Board Member Robert McDorman, “Several legislators asked me to explain the bills, and nearly every legislator I spoke with had some knowledge of the bills. They were all very interested in how H.B. 1321 and H.B. 1437 will benefit and protect Texas consumers, and I think we made a lot of progress in helping them get a better grasp of why safe repairs are quality repairs and how appraisal is the guardrail for indemnification when a dispute over the loss arises between the insurer and the insured.”

To get involved now by asking your local representatives to support H.B. 1321 and H.B. 1437, visit texaswatch.org/fair-appraisal. For more information on ABAT, visit abat.us.

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