Insurer Leaves Auto Damage Appraiser Licensing Board Amid Controversy - BodyShop Business

Insurer Leaves Auto Damage Appraiser Licensing Board Amid Controversy

Karen Mills of Progressive – who was appointed by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to replace a body shop owner on the state’s Auto Damage Appraiser Licensing Board (ADALB) – stepped down from her position this week amid allegations that her appointment violated state law, the Boston Herald reported.

Critics of Mills’ appointment to ADALB, including the Massachusetts Auto Body Association (MABA), claimed the board became balanced in favor of insurers after shop owner Joseph Valarioti was unexpectedly removed from it in July and replaced by the insurance executive. Per state law, the board is supposed to have two representatives of the auto body industry, two representatives from the insurance industry and one layperson to chair the board.

When MABA and others asked how an insurance executive could legally replace an auto body representative, they were informed by the state that a current board member, Joseph Coyne, was being re-designated as an auto body representative. Coyne is the owner of Home and Auto Appraisals in Dorchester and has served as an insurer representative for over two years.

“Joe Coyne was appointed over two years ago as an insurance representative, and there has never been any doubt in anyone’s mind that Joe Coyne is affiliated with the insurance industry,” said MABA spokesman Stephen Regan in September. “Reclassifying Mr. Coyne as an auto body appointee creates a board with three insurer representatives and one autobody representative and violates the law, legislative intent and 30 years of precedent. With an unbalanced board, there is great concern whether consumers and small businesses would be treated fairly.”

At last month’s ADALB meeting, MABA threatened to sue over Mills’ appointment, the Boston Herald reported.

“It became clear that there were significant concerns about the makeup of the board,” Progressive spokesperson Leah Knapp told the newspaper. “Karen felt it was in the best interest of all concerned for her to step aside.”

A Massachusetts Division of Insurance spokesman told the newspaper that the state will continue to focus on ensuring that the board is “properly balanced.”

Valarioti, who said this summer that he wouldn’t seek re-appointment to the board but believed Mills’ appointment violated state law, had one thing to tell the newspaper: “All I can say is, ‘I told you so.’”

More information:

• Massachusetts Repairers Challenge Addition of Insurer to Licensing Board

• Body Shop Owner Kicked Off Appraiser Licensing Board in Favor of Insurer

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