Growing concern over the ability of aftermarket bumper reinforcements to protect vehicle occupants has prompted the Collision Repair Association of California (CRA) to seek the intervention of Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. In a letter, the CRA asked Poizner to require insurers to review claims where aftermarket bumper supports were used in collision repairs and to disclose such use to affected policyholders.
Recently, major aftermarket associations agreed to suspend distribution of aftermarket bumper reinforcements while one major insurer, GEICO, stated it would no longer use them. These announcements follow on the heels of research by I-CAR instructor and Collision Industry Conference presenter Toby Chess showing that aftermarket bumper reinforcements lack the structural integrity to withstand collisions sustained by high-strength steel reinforcements used by OEMs.
“We want a recall,” said CRA president Lee Amaradio, owner of Faith Quality Auto Body in Murrieta, Calif. “Our members have lost business to insurers that refuse to pay for high-strength steel reinforcements. These factory parts ensure that airbags will deploy properly. Some, but not all, insurers favor cheap metal substitutions that reduce repair costs, but compromise the structural integrity of the vehicle.
"I hope Commissioner Poizner will do the right thing by requiring insurers to identify vehicles repaired with inferior bumper reinforcements. Furthermore, the owners of these vehicles must be informed by insurers that their vehicles were outfitted with inferior aftermarket bumper reinforcements.”
Amaradio said the CRA has always opposed the use of aftermarket parts that affect a vehicle’s safety and that state law requires insurers to warrant repairs when the insurer requires the use of aftermarket parts.
“If insurers stand behind these aftermarket parts, they have an obligation to review the prior use of these parts when evidence suggests these parts may not perform as original equipment from the manufacturer,” he said.
“I applaud the various associations and insurers that have stopped using these inferior bumper reinforcements,” Amaradio added. “But the CRA’s concern is for those consumers who are driving in vehicles that have been fitted with bumper reinforcements that may not afford them adequate protection in a collision.”
He noted that Chess is willing to come to Sacramento to personally demonstrate the quality of specific aftermarket bumper reinforcements.
CRA and Toby Chess to Bring Parts Safety Message To California Lawmakers