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California Legislators Considering Four Collision Repair Bills

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Four bills affecting collision repair in California remain alive in the state legislature. Here’s a breakdown:

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1. The full state Senate will vote on Senate Bill 1059 (Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco), sponsored by the Collision Repair Association of California, sometime during the second or third week of May. Collision repair trade associations and consumer groups support the bill, while insurers and aftermarket organizations oppose it.

S.B. 1059 would prohibit an insurer from requiring the use of aftermarket parts on new vehicles unless the insurance policy required their use. The bill applies to new cars (vehicles during their first three years since the sale date) and is limited to parts affecting the engine, cooling system and air conditioning system, as well as corrosion protection. Insurers would be required to disclose aftermarket parts mandates at the time the policy is offered for sale and on the declarations page.

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Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, hailed the bill for providing consumers with critical information on vehicle insurance coverage. CRA member Lee Amaradio of Faith Quality Auto Body has stirred insurers into action. His comments on the high return rate for aftermarket parts have prompted some insurers to ask the CRA for more data on what aftermarket suppliers are associated with these returns and why the returns are being made.

2. S.B. 1371 (Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana), sponsored by the California Autobody Association and supported by the CRA, proposes a definition for insurer capping of paint and material charges. According to the CRA, this measure attempts to sanction “accepted industry methodologies” used to calculate paint and material charges. The CRA wants full certainty that insurers will not be able to adopt or alter a methodology to produce results that fail to reflect the true cost of paint and materials.

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The Department of Insurance has created a working group of insurers and repairers that has tentatively agreed to capping language that differs slightly from S.B. 1371. However, both S.B. 1371 and the workshop language hinge on the term “accepted industry methodology.” The bill has been approved by the Senate and is next set to be heard in the Assembly Insurance Committee.

3. S.B. 1167 (Sen. Pat Wiggins, D-Santa Rosa) was a tough anti-steering bill sponsored by the CRA until it became obvious that the measure didn’t have enough votes to be passed by the Senate Banking, Finance and Insurance Committee. Wiggins has amended the bill to require that the insurance commissioner form a task force to study issues addressed by Insurance Code Section 758.5 (the anti-steering statute). The CRA is working with Wiggins to determine how the bill might be most effective in reducing unfair and illegal insurer practices. The measure will be heard in Senate Appropriations within the next two weeks.

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4. The CRA, the CAA and the California Motor Car Dealers Association oppose Assembly Bill 2825 (Assemblywoman Wilma Amina Carter, D-62nd District), saying it is duplicative of current law. A.B. 2825 requires an automotive repair dealer, once repairs are completed, to provide a signed, written certification to the customer that the crash parts identified on the itemized written estimate were installed on the vehicle.

The bill is similar to the author’s legislation that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed last year. Given that the state Bureau of Automotive Repair updated invoice requirements through rulemaking last year, the CRA believes the purpose of A.B. 2825 is unclear. The promoters of A.B. 2825 are trying to kill the S.B. 1059, the CRA says; however, the association hopes to work with Carter to improve the measure so that its advances consumer protections in the manner of S.B. 1059 rather than remain a bill that creates paperwork without a purpose.

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