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Cover Story

THE CALL for CHANGE: ABAT and HABA Testify in Support of House Bill 1348 April 17 was a day that mattered. After careful consideration, the Texas House Committee on Insurance voted favorably on April 17 to advance House Bill 1348, otherwise known as the Auto Body Insurance Accountability Bill, to the Calendars Committee. is step puts the legislation one step closer to a vote on the House floor. e Committee on Insurance’s encouraging action followed intense activity in Austin on April 9, when various members of the Texas collision repair industry spoke in support of the bill. Representative Travis Clardy (R-Nacogdoches), who is sponsoring House Bill 1348, was the first to address the Committee and held nothing back in outlining the legislation’s goals on behalf of Texas motorists. “Consumers should be protected by state law and should not be subjected to unsavory business practices that can lead to catastrophic events. Automobiles are among the biggest purchases our constituents make. We count on them to deliver us to our destinations safely. After a collision or damage event, Texans have a right – and really an expectation – that their vehicle will be repaired to its pre-accident condition. Repairs need to be made safely, using safe parts and by following accepted safety procedures.” Addressing the element of the bill that seeks to address steering, he explained to his fellow legislators that insurers regularly direct policyholders to partner shops and discourage them from using non-Direct Repair Program facilities by telling them (among other things) that the repairs could take longer or they won’t be able to get their deductibles back. “Subtle – but sometimes not too subtle – forms of steering by the insurance companies [are being done] as a way they can reduce costs, have inferior repairs made and pass that burden of proof back to the consumers, who paid good dollars – like we all do – for insurance policies and for our premiums.” Clardy’s testimony also took the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) to task for not doing more to properly address many of the issues that House Bill 1348 aims to solve despite having the statutory means to do so. “I was told by the TDI officials…that they didn’t think they had the specificity within the statute to direct [insurers] on how to deal with this. I will say I think I have a fundamental disagreement on how the TDI seems to view its relationship between consumers and insurance companies. I don’t see it as the broker, the mediator, the

18 MAY 2019 Texas Automotive

ABAT President Burl Richards

go-between or the liaison between consumers and the insurance companies. I view the role of the TDI to be the advocate – the protector – of consumers, our constituents and real Texans over the insurance companies.” ABAT President Burl Richards testified that House Bill 1348 would promote consumer safety by establishing the use of OEM procedures as the definitive standard of repair. “ere’s been a growing epidemic – across not only the state, but the nation – of insurance companies dictating the repair of a vehicle, putting dollar signs over the lives of your constituents. ey write the policies, they dictate the cost of repair and the methodology in which [that] vehicle is repaired. ey do this by refusing to pay for I-CAR and original equipment manufacturers’ safe practices and by only paying the ‘prevailing rate.’ is is an undefined term that insurance companies write in their policies to dictate the cost and method of repair.” (Read Richards’ President’s Message in this issue for more of his thoughts on House Bill 1348 and the hearing.) Calling the legislation “a common sense bill,” ABAT Board member Chad Kiffe (Berli’s Body & Fine Finishes) stressed that evolving automotive technologies demand stricter guidelines for repair than what was seen in the past. “With the way these cars are being built these days, it’s not like it was in the ’80s, ’90s or continued on page 20

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Texas Automotive May 2019  

Official Publication of the Auto Body Association of Texas

Texas Automotive May 2019  

Official Publication of the Auto Body Association of Texas

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