Northeastern News

1HomePageMap small ne 0816Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law that bans the use of credit in underwriting and rating private passenger motor vehicle insurance in his state, according to reports made by Insurance Journal.

The law, Chapter 195 of the Acts of 2011, was signed by the governor in late November. The ban has already been in practice in the state but as an administrative regulation. This latest measure codifies into law the state’s current administrative ban on the use of credit scoring.

“We want to commend the legislature and the Patrick Administration for their leadership and support on this important issue,” commented Frank Mancini, President and CEO of Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents. His group has been the driving force in the state to put into law the current ban on using credit information.

Massachusetts is already a state with some of the most strict bans in the nation regarding the use of credit information and socioeconomic factors in underwriting.

Mancini added that “especially during these difficult financial times, this legislation will provide Massachusetts consumers with much-needed protection against an unfair, unreliable, and discriminatory rate-setting practice.”

“People just don’t believe their financial woes or a mistake on their credit report should affect their ability to buy affordable auto insurance,” he said. “We were gratified to see so many officials on Beacon Hill share this sentiment and take action to prevent this from occurring.”

Mancini pointed to a poll commissioned in August by his association showing that Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly supported this measure. By a margin of 68.3 percent to 31.6 percent, respondents across diverse demographic groups believed that auto insurance premiums should be based as much as possible on an individual’s driving record and years of driving experience.

Thursday, 08 December 2011 17:29

Nissan Leaf Expands Availability Into DE, PA

Days before the one-year anniversary of the world's first Nissan LEAF delivery on Dec. 11, Nissan North America Inc. (NNA) expanded availability of the all-electric LEAF into new U.S. markets. After one year and 20,000 global deliveries, the Nissan LEAF remains the world's first and only all-electric car for the mass market.

December 6, Nissan has re-opened reservations and has begun taking orders from the general public for the 2012 Nissan LEAF in Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. Deliveries of the LEAF, enriched for the 2012 model year with additional standard equipment including quick charging and cold-weather features, will take place in these key markets beginning in spring 2012.

"Nissan LEAFs have been on the U.S. roads for one year now, and thousands of drivers have become living proof that a 100-percent electric, zero-emissions vehicle fulfills the daily needs of drivers from all walks of life," said Brian Carolin, senior vice president, Sales and Marketing, NNA. "We are seeing already-strong interest in the LEAF continue to grow across the country. This market expansion brings us one step closer to true, nationwide availability."

With this new wave of availability, Nissan LEAF is now available for order in 30 states, including Washington, D.C. Nationwide, 50-state ordering will be available by March 2012.

For more information visit http://www.nissan-global.com/EN/.

Thursday, 08 December 2011 17:27

Syracuse Shelves Red-Light Camera Plan, For Now

Syracuse is following the lead of several other New York area cities and shelving its plans for stoplight cameras.

The Post-Standard of Syracuse reports that the city had asked companies to bid on installing cameras at intersections last fall in hopes of catching people who run red lights. A spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Miner told the newspaper that the project was abandoned last week.

Spokesman Bill Ryan said the red-light cameras have brought criticism and legal hassles in other cities. Seven states; Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, West Virginia and Wisconsin, have banned red light cameras. Los Angeles, CA, was also reportedly losing $1.5 million a year on its cameras.

Syracuse Common Councilor Lance Denno said he didn’t think cameras would make the city’s streets safer.

The Right to Repair Coalition announced October 21 that it has collected 106,658 voter signatures, exceeding the 68,911 required for the initiative to appear on the 2012 ballot in Massachusetts.

Said Kathleen Schmatz, president and CEO of the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA): “We are very pleased with the growing support for Right to Repair on both the federal and state levels. The momentum building in Congress, coupled with the groundswell of support from voters in Massachusetts, demonstrates how important Right to Repair is to consumers, especially in a tough economy,” said Schmatz.  “Right to Repair will help alleviate motorists’ financial burden by ensuring a competitive vehicle repair marketplace, allowing car owners to patronize the repair facility of their choice.”

According to the Right to Repair Coalition, the voter initiative would, for the first time, allow consumers to access all of the non-proprietary repair information required to have their vehicles repaired where they choose, at a new car dealership or an independent shop. The proposed law would level the playing field between the big car manufacturers’ dealerships and independent, neighborhood repair facilities, allowing the latter to finally be able to access the same non-proprietary automobile diagnostic and repair information that is currently only available to the manufacturers’ dealers and their new car dealerships.

“It’s time that car owners have the right to get our vehicles repaired wherever we choose,” said Jeff McLeod of Marshfield, one of the signers of the ballot petition. “The growing support for this issue shows how important it is for consumers, especially in a difficult economy.”

ALLDATA, Future Cure, Hunter Engineering, Metropolitan Car-O-Liner, Mitchell, SAIMA/Accudraft and Subaru are among the exhibitors already signed up for the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey (AASP/NJ)’s 35th annual NORTHEAST™ Automotive Services Show at the Meadowlands. NORTHEAST™ 2012 will take place March 9-11 at the Meadowlands Expedition Center in Secaucus, NJ.

“We’re pleasantly surprised with the early sign-ups,” says AASP/NJ President Jeff McDowell. Early exhibitors include Aeromotive, Audatex, Flemington Car & Truck Country, Hella, Integrity Security Systems, LKQ, Procut USA, Steck Manufacturing, Suburban Manufacturing Inc. / Tsunami Industries, Team PRP and the Radiator Store.

“Our show is kind of like the working man’s show,” McDowell said.

For more information on the show and AASP/NJ, please visit www.aaspnjnortheast.com.

A bill to ban texting while driving, amended in October to make it a primary offense, passed the House on November 7 and won concurrence in the Senate November 8 by a vote of 45-5. It now awaits the governor’s signature, according to The Harrisburg Times Herald.

Gov. Corbett is expected to sign the bill, pending a final review, Gary Miller, a spokesman for the governor’s office, said.

Pennsylvania joins 34 states and the District of Columbia that have banned texting while driving. Of those, 31 enforce the ban as a primary offense, meaning police can pull over a motorist observed texting while driving.

Senate Bill 314 bans reading, writing or sending a text message while driving. A provision to ban hand-held cell phone use for calls was previously stripped from the bill.

The bill initially called for texting to be a secondary offense—a motorist could only be ticketed following an accident or if stopped for a primary offense—but an amendment making texting a primary offense, sponsored by state Rep. Josh Shapiro, D-153, passed in the House Oct. 25 by a vote of 128-69. The full bill with the amendment attached passed the next day in the House 164-29. The final House vote on the bill November 7 was a near-unanimous 188-7.

Shapiro, who has sponsored several bills to ban the use of hand-held cell phones, termed S.B. 314 “a big win for safety in Pennsylvania.”

“After seven years of fighting we finally passed a ban on texting while driving in Pennsylvania and made it a primary offense,” Shapiro said. “This is the strongest bill possible.”

As he has for the previous 30 years, Sam Mikhail of Prestige Auto Body attended the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey (AASP/NJ)’s annual membership meeting at the Crowne Plaza Hotel of Clark in late October.

The Right to Repair Coalition announced October 21 that it has collected 106,658 voter signatures after just 19 days of effort, well exceeding the 68,911 required for the initiative to appear on the 2012 ballot in Massachusetts.

According to the Right to Repair Coalition, the voter initiative would, for the first time, allow consumers to access all of the non-proprietary repair information required to have their vehicles repaired where they choose, at a new car dealership or an independent shop. The proposed law would level the playing field between the big car manufacturers' dealerships and independent, neighborhood repair facilities, allowing the latter to finally be able to access the same non-proprietary automobile diagnostic and repair information that is currently only available to the manufacturers’ dealers and their new car dealerships.

“It's time that car owners have the right to get our vehicles repaired wherever we choose,” said Jeff McLeod of Marshfield, one of the signers of the ballot petition. “The growing support for this issue shows how important it is for consumers, especially in a difficult economy.”

A bill to ban texting while driving, amended last week to make it a primary offense, passed the House November 7 and won concurrence in the Senate November 8 by a vote of 45-5. It now awaits the governor’s signature before becoming law, according to The Harrisburg Times Herald.

Gov. Corbett is expected to sign the bill, pending a final review, Gary Miller, a spokesman for the governor’s office, said November 8.

Pennsylvania joins 34 states and the District of Columbia that have banned texting while driving. Of those, 31 enforce the ban as a primary offense, meaning police can pull over a motorist observed texting while driving.

Senate Bill 314 bans reading, writing or sending a text message while driving. A provision to ban hand-held cell phone use for calls was previously stripped from the bill. The bill initially called for texting to be a secondary offense—a motorist could only be ticketed following an accident or if stopped for a primary offense—but an amendment making texting a primary offense, sponsored by state Rep. Josh Shapiro, D-153, passed in the House Oct. 25 by a vote of 128-69. The full bill with the amendment attached passed the next day in the House 164-29. The final House vote on the bill November 7 was a near-unanimous 188-7.

Shapiro, who has sponsored several bills to ban the use of hand-held cell phones, called S.B. 314 “a big win for safety in Pennsylvania.” “After seven years of fighting we finally passed a ban on texting while driving in Pennsylvania and made it a primary offense,” Shapiro said. “This is the strongest bill possible.”

A new law in NJ (N.J.S.A.39:13-2.1)  amends the insurance coverage requirements for damage to property and for liability arising from bodily injury which an auto body repair facility must maintain for a full service license. The law reduces the minimum amount of garage keepers’ liability insurance that a shop must maintain from $300,000 to $50,000.

Full service licensed auto body facilities must still maintain insurance coverage for damage to property and for liability arising from bodily injury, including, but not limited to: eligible garage liability or equivalent commercial general liability insurance in a minimum amount of $300,000 or a letter of credit in the amount of $300,000; Garage keepers’ liability insurance in a minimum amount of $50,000 or a letter of credit in the amount of $50,000. Limited full service license applicants and licensees must also comply with these requirements.

“This will make the law fair to the shops by not forcing a small shop to purchase more insurance than it needs,” said Charles Bryant of the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey, which proposed and supported the change.