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Saturday, 30 September 2006 17:00

House bill calls for disclosure of damaged vehicles

The United States House of Representatives is taking a crucial step to make America' s roadways safer by ensuring valuable information is easily accessible to consumers. Representative Cliff Stearns (R-FL) along with Representative Charles Bass (R-NH), introduced the Damaged Vehicle Information Act (H.R.6093) in September. 

The legislation requires public disclosure of the VIN numbers from vehicles determined to have suffered damage resulting in significant fair market value loss. ARA urges the automotive recycling industry to contact Congress and voice support for H.R. 6093. 

The Automotive Recyclers Associa-tion (ARA) supports the basic goal of this legislation. Millions of vehicles are "totaled" by insurance companies due to extensive damage, flooding, fire and theft and are rebuilt and then sold fraudulently, with clear titles, to unsuspecting customers. Despite repeated attempts to curb salvage title fraud, the problem has increased as a result of the various state motor vehicle titling laws which create loopholes ready-made for fraud.

Among other things, H.R. 6093 requires persons to disclose information without regard to whether a certificate of title is obtained under state motor vehicle titling law or a branded title is obtained under state motor vehicle titling law and provides consumers with information about vehicles that currently is only available to insurance companies and transportation officials.

"ARA has been working closely with lawmakers in the House on this effort to get legislation introduced that will empower consumers with full disclosure of the condition of the vehicles they may wish to purchase," said George Eliades, ARA executive vice president.

H.R. 6093 directs the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to regulate that persons disclose this information to the public in a "commercially reasonable, electronically accessible manner." Persons covered by the bill include any individual, company, corporation, association, firm, partnership, society or any other entity, but does not include any governmental agency.

"The House bill addresses critics' concerns by broadly defining the entities that must disclose vehicles in total loss condition, which will ensure that not just those vehicles totaled by insurance companies are reported," according to Eliades. "Simply declaring that the data must be released in an electronically accessible manner and made available to the public, as the House bill does, takes the wind right out of the sails of those arguing that such disclosure is somehow unfair or unreliable."


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