The Massachusetts Auto Body Association (MABA) is challenging a decision by Gov. Deval Patrick to reclassify an appointee to the state Auto Damage Appraisers Licensing Board (ADALB) after the controversial dismissal of a collision repairer who was replaced by a member of the insurance industry (click HERE to read original story).
In July, board member Joseph Valarioti, an auto body representative for
decades, received a notice from Patrick that he was being removed from
the board. Shortly thereafter, the governor appointed Karen Mills of
Progressive Insurance to replace Valarioti.
MABA, along with the Central Mass Auto Rebuilders and the Alliance of Automotive Service Professional of Massachusetts/Rhode Island contends that Patrick’s decision is a violation of the state law that created the board, and will result in increasing the insurance industry’s control of consumers and small businesses.
The ADALB, which was created in 1981, is a five-member state board that hears complaints by consumers, repairers or insurers against licensed appraisers who are required to follow specific state regulations when appraising damage after accidents. The law that established the board states that of the five members, the governor appoints four, two of whom must be affiliated with the auto body repair industry and two of whom must be affiliated with the insurance industry. The insurance commissioner appoints the fifth member not affiliated with the auto body or insurance industries, who serves as the board’s chair.
When MABA and others asked how an insurance executive could replace an auto body representative, they were informed 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. “Reclassifying Mr. Coyne as an auto body appointee creates a board with three insurer representatives and one auto body 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.”
The state has stood by its decision, contending that Coyne is more accurately described as a representative of the auto body industry, despite his ties to the insurance industry.
MABA has written to legislators and businesses in the industry, asking them to join it in opposing this move and call the governor’s office at (888) 870-7770.