Appearance by Connecticut AG Highlight of SCRS Meeting - BodyShop Business

Appearance by Connecticut AG Highlight of SCRS Meeting

Connecticut AG Richard Blumenthal to repairers: Over the years, Connecticut Attorney General (AG) Richard Blumenthal has been a champion of repairers’ and consumers’ rights and has supported bills to deter collusive relationships between insurers and repairers.

It’s no wonder, then, that attendees of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) meeting held April 22 in Hartford, Conn., were thrilled that he took time to speak to them about the latest legislative goings-on in his state.

Blumenthal told the audience that he firmly believes in promoting competition in the collision repair market without interference.

“There should be no interference in you and your customer’s decision,” he said. “Consumers should not be required to go to a certain shop. And your standards and ethics should be respected.”

Blumenthal said he feels there is a group of AGs that shares his feelings about promoting healthy competition and maintaining a level playing field in collision repair. When asked how feasible it was to assemble a coalition of AGs to fight for issues important to repairers and their customers, he said getting others on board requires a few key elements.

“They need a backbone and a willingness to listen to violations of the law,” Blumenthal said. “Facts are also very important.”

One repairer suggested that fighting insurer interference is often futile because “once we come up with a solution for something, [insurers] just buy another law.”

“If we have facts and fight for the law, I have to believe we can change things,” responded Blumenthal. “Otherwise, why would I come to work?”

Blumenthal agreed that enforcement and penalties for violating anti-steering laws need to be stronger, but questioned whether the government could mandate that insurers adhere to a uniform “script” when speaking to consumers about their repair options.

“People fail to realize how important enforcement is,” he said. “There are more laws on the books that are unenforced than are, so we need to get the public’s attention and tell people how these laws affect them.

“There is always the danger of unintended consequences when creating legislation. Collaboration is a good thing unless it’s competitors getting together and fixing prices. So we need to be careful of what we legislate.”

Blumenthal concluded his remarks by expressing his own frustration over insurance companies’ anti-trust exemption.

“Laws should be applied to insurers and repairers. But doctors have rates set by insurers, yet they can’t together to raise rates because of anti-trust. Something’s wrong here.”

The Auto Body Association of Connecticut (ABAC) is trying to get lawmakers’ attention with a petition geared toward enforcing federal anti-trust laws (click HERE to read story).

To read about three bills currently under consideration in Connecticut, click HERE.

To read about a Supreme Court decision on steering that Connecticut repairers won, click HERE.

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