Rhode Island Property committee hears testimony on automobile-entire body expenses

PROVIDENCE — There have been accusations of lies and counteraccusations of self-interest. There have been numbers that propose expenses have risen drastically and other numbers that propose they’ve been stable.

Back once more to do battle Tuesday ahead of state lawmakers were the automobile-body shop owners and the insurance coverage businesses.

This year’s clash mainly revolves around 2 payments, each supported by the Car Body Association of Rhode Island and opposed by the Residence Casualty Insurers Association of America.

Home Bill 7404, sponsored by Rep. Stephen Ucci, D-Johnston, expands a law that needs proprietor approval when aftermarket elements are used on vehicles that are less than 30 months old. Below present law, the rule applies to entire body elements, but Ucci’s bill would make it apply to all parts.

Supporters mentioned the bill would safeguard owners and make certain that broken elements on newer autos are replaced with parts from the car’s manufacturer.

But opponents mentioned the adjust would affect even small elements and could drive up fix fees.

House Bill 7796, sponsored by Rep. Arthur Corvese, D-North Providence, establishes 2 tiers of auto-physique restore shops — “Class A” outlets that would be capable of repairing new automobiles with the most recent technologies and materials, and “Class B” stores that would perform on older automobiles.

Supporters said the bill reflects alterations that are coming with the use of new materials in the most recent cars, and opponents did not dispute that thought. But they did oppose language in the bill that calls for various labor rate surveys for the 2 types of outlets.

Stephen Zubiago, a lobbyist for the Home and Casualty Insurers Association of Rhode Island, explained the inspiration is income.

“What this bill is aimed at is a labor rate,” he informed the Property Firms Committee.

But James Moy, a senior advisor with Precision Car Group, in New York, disagreed.

“It’s not about income, charging a lot more,” he said. “It’s about acquiring the auto fixed.”

Whilst the payments had been the explanation men and women came to testify, the current historical past of auto-entire body store owners clashing with insurers created the 21/2-hour meeting seem to be like the most current installment in a feud.

The Residence Casualty Insurers Association came into the meeting with a “Special Report” titled “It’s Time to End the ABARI Campaign.” The report was subtitled: “Stop Excessive Cost Hikes Brought on by a Decade of Physique Shop Legislation.”

The report says collision restore expenses, entire body shop labor fees, collision declare expenses, collision insurance premiums and vehicle insurance premiums have all risen throughout the previous decade — one in which the Car Body Association of Rhode Island has supported 17 expenses that have turn into law. The report also says Rhode Island had the 13th-highest typical entire body shop collision restore value in the nation 10 many years ago and now has the second-highest.

Jina Petrarca-Karampetsos, spokeswoman for the Automobile Entire body Association of Rhode Island, responded with her personal report that says regular restore expenses rose just 2 percent from 2004 to 2010. She also mentioned that in 2011, the average premium for automobile insurance coverage in Rhode Island was $ 1,148 — “exactly 19 dollars much more than your premium was in 1996.”

“I am so exhausted of coming up here with details and figures and obtaining to defend towards lies,” she mentioned.

Francis O’Brien, vice president of state government relations for the House Casualty Insurers Association of America, mentioned he stood by the association’s report and “would be content to provide the committee” with a rebuttal.

The committee held the bills for more research.

On Twitter: @RandyEdgar1

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