NCOIL Defers Parts Certification
No Final Action on Parts and Steering Model Acts
Members of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) gathered in Austin, Texas, for their annual meeting as well as to discuss two model pieces of legislation: the Model Act Regarding Motor Vehicle Crash Parts and Repair, and the Model Act Regarding Auto Body Steering. Prior to the annual meeting, Automotive Service Association (ASA) members rallied in opposition to both Model Acts with e-mails, phone calls and letters to their state legislators who serve on the NCOIL Property-Casualty Insurance Committee. ASA also submitted testimony and comments at the annual meeting.
In a 13 to 11 vote, committee members defeated an amendment that equated certified aftermarket crash parts with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. ASA opposed this language.
Other problems with the parts legislation included:
• Provisions for consumer consent did not go far enough to protect vehicle owners or repairers.
• Provisions regarding aftermarket parts certification should have been eliminated.
Unfortunately, the committee opted to defer final action on the Model Parts Act until the 2011 spring conference in Washington, D.C. Sen. Ruth Teichman, R-Kan., committee chairwoman, said: "We've vowed to take an up-or-down vote on this model at the spring meeting and put to rest an issue that has drawn NCOIL time and attention for more than a decade. Although many of us gathered in Texas expected to walk away from the meeting with a decision, this just isn't the time to end debate." Teichman continued, "The bill is a balancing act, and we need to ensure that some of our recent decisions wouldn't cause safety and other problems down the road. This has never been an easy issue." Teichman will not be chairwoman of the committee in 2011. A new NCOIL Property-Casualty Committee and chairman will be appointed prior to the spring conference.
The Proposed Model Act Regarding Insurer Auto Body Steering was also shelved indefinitely by the Property-Casualty Committee. Teichman commented, "We certainly want to promote a system that lets consumers choose the repair shops they want, rather than respond to insurer demands or pressure. But considering the wide-ranging opposition to our proposed model, moving forward with this draft language seemed unwise. Is there a better way to safeguard consumer choice? Possibly, and that's what the committee may choose to discuss next year."
It appears that the Model Steering Act is dead. With a new committee to be appointed for 2011 and the overwhelming opposition to this proposal, it is unlikely to be revisited in the near future.
ASA had several concerns with the original proposal. The draft lacked criteria to be used in insurer shop recommendations. ASA supported language requiring insurers to base shop recommendations on the level of training, equipment and certifications held by the repair facility and its staff. ASA, in a letter to the NCOIL Property-Casualty committee chairwoman, stated: "The current NCOIL draft encourages a system seeking the lowest common denominator within the marketplace; punishing those shops with higher standards."
ASA also requested that the bill include language to ensure there is no interference with a consumer's selection of a repair facility once it has been determined.
The remnants of the Model Parts Act have already produced a legislative proposal in one state for 2011. South Carolina state Sen. David Thomas has prefiled Senate Bill 70, which mirrors the NCOIL Model Parts Act with the amendment equating aftermarket crash parts with OEM parts removed. The bill is still flawed due to:
• Inadequate provisions for consumer-written consent
• Strongest protections for the consumer are post-repair, which puts a burden on the repair facility.
ASA opposes South Carolina Senate Bill 70 and will work to defeat it during the 2011 session.
To view more on NCOIL, replacement crash parts or South Carolina Senate Bill 70, please go to www.TakingTheHill.com.
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