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Legislative Lowdown

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Alabama – Alabama Gov. Bob Riley recently named Jim L. Ridling the state’s insurance commissioner.

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Ridling takes over the position from Walter Bell, who resigned in August to become chairman of Swiss Re America Holding Corp.

Ridling is former president and CEO of Southern Guaranty and is one of the founders of River Bank and Trust. Ridling began his new position on Sept. 15.

California – The California Department of Insurance (DOI) has released its proposed changes to the state’s anti-steering statute. The proposed rules would prevent an insurer from discussing DRPs or an alternative facility if the claimant informs the insurer that he or she has selected a specific repair facility. The rules would also prevent an insurer from raising questions about the quality of the repair facility selected by the claimant.

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Last year, the Collision Repair Association of California (CRA) sponsored the vetoed S.B. 1167, which would have required insurers to ask policyholders if they’ve chosen a repair shop prior to suggesting one and, due to revisions, would have also created a task force to study issues addressed by Insurance Code Section 758.5 (the anti-steering statute). The CRA and the California Autobody Association (CAA), along with representatives from auto dealer and insurance groups, were also part of a task force studying labor rate and steering issues to help the DOI create possible changes to state insurance law.

The CRA believes the DOI’s proposed changes to the state’s anti-steering law would improve enforcement of it.

“The proposed steering rules should stop blatant acts of steering,” said Lee Amaradio, CRA president. “The final proof will be how the Department of Insurance enforces the rules when they become final. I would like to thank the insurance commissioner for adding clarity to a law designed to protect consumer choice.”

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CRA Executive Director Allen Wood will testify on the rules at a public hearing on Feb. 25 at 10 a.m. at the Employment Development Auditorium, 722 Capitol Mall, Sacramento. Insurers and other trade groups are also expected to testify.

The CRA invites its members to e-mail comments on the proposed rules to Wood at [email protected] and CRA lobbyist Richard Steffen at [email protected] pacbell.net.

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