Anti-Steering Measure Dies After Maine Governor’s Veto

Anti-Steering Measure Dies After Maine Governor’s Veto

Maine Gov. Paul LePage vetoed legislation that aimed to clarify Maine's anti-steering law.

Maine law prohibits insurers from steering consumers to a particular body shop for collision repairs. Even so, some shops in the state believe that the law could be stronger, as they’ve seen insurers find ways to circumvent the anti-steering language.

Unfortunately, their efforts to pass stronger anti-steering legislation came up short, as Maine Gov. Paul LePage vetoed Legislative Document 1540, and the Maine Senate sustained LePage’s veto.

“An Act to Protect Consumers’ Freedom of Choice in Auto Collision Repairs,” sponsored by Maine Rep. Scott Hamann, would have required insurers to provide the following statement if recommending a particular shop:

“You have the legal right to choose a motor vehicle collision repair shop to fix your vehicle. Your policy will cover the reasonable costs of repairing your vehicle to its pre-accident condition no matter where you have repairs made.”

On May 31, the Maine House of Representatives passed the anti-steering measure by a healthy margin. LePage vetoed the bill.

On June 21, the House overturned LePage’s veto, with two-thirds of the House voting in favor of the bill. However, the Senate failed to produce the necessary votes to override the veto.

In a message accompanying his veto, LePage asserted that LD 1540 “micromanages Maine businesses and creates more unnecessary regulations for Maine’s auto insurance industry.”

“LD 1540 appears to be a solution in search of problem,” LePage wrote. “If auto insurance companies were truly steering business toward specific collision repair businesses, this may be a discussion worth having. But over the course of the last nine years, Maine’s insurance bureau has only received six consumer complaints regarding this issue; two of those complaints were that insurers did not direct insureds to shops participating in the insurer’s networks.

“Additionally, the superintendent of insurance conducted a study of the seven largest auto insurance carriers in Maine and did not identify any instances of steering.”

Attorney Bernadette Bolduc Papi and the team at ACME Body Shop in Portland, Maine, spearheaded the effort to get the legislation drafted.

“The insurance companies are interfering with the free marketplace,” Papi testified at a May 10 public hearing on the bill. “Consumers are losing their freedom of choice.”

Hamann, the bill sponsor, testified that steering is a common practice that works well for insurers and body shops – but not consumers.

“This bill is very simple,” Hamann testified. “It seeks to end the practice of steering by banning the company from using either threats or incentives when they choose a body shop after an accident. Furthermore, it requires the insurance company to explain to a customer, through a pre­-approved script, that they have the legal right to get the repair done at the shop of their choice.”

You May Also Like

Fix Auto USA Salutes U.S. Army Vet Franchisee

This past Veterans Day, Fix Auto USA honored veterans among its franchise partners and corporate team members for their military service.

This past Veterans Day, Fix Auto USA honored veterans among its franchise partners and corporate team members for their military service, including Ian Morton, a U.S. army veteran who owns Fix Auto Tucson-Thoroughbred and Fix Auto Sierra Vista collision repair facilities in Arizona. 

Morton's decision to serve his country was inspired in part by a family ancestor who signed the Declaration of Independence. Today, he gives back to veterans in need through the Warrior Healing Center in Sierra Vista which provides suicide prevention and other services to local veterans.

Auto Care Association Opposes New Connecticut Repair Regulation

New regulation would require repair shops engaged in changing the oil or tires and tubes of a motor vehicle to determine if the motor vehicle being repaired or worked upon is subject to an open recall.

U.S. House Committee Hears ASA Position on REPAIR Act

ASA Chairman Scott Benavidez testified that the agreement with automakers ensures independent shops have the data for service and repair in the future.

Maryland Passes New Calibration Law

S.B. 793 establishes consumer protections related to the repair or replacement of glass on motor vehicles equipped with ADAS.

ASA Calls on Texas Legislature to Oppose H.B. 3297

ASA says bill would end Texas vehicle safety inspections and make roads less safe.

Other Posts

AASP/NJ Names Lodi’s Main Auto Body Shop of the Year

The award is given annually to an outstanding member shop for its contributions to the association and the industry-at-large.

Toyota Invests $8 Billion in N.C. EV Battery Plant

This investment adds capacity to support battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).

Maaco Announces Regional Cup Award Winners

Maaco announced the Maaco Regional Cup awards, which recognize operators for top sales, production and overall performance within their given region.

Podcasts of the Week

A review of some of the latest podcasts from BodyShop Business.