Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in Arizona, Utah, Arkansas, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Louisiana
Two new bills filed by Larry Cernosek with the Houston Auto Body Association on February 24 are aimed at requiring liability carriers to pay for the towing and storage of a vehicle when they are at fault. This would take this financial burden off of the shop. The bills were filed with the Texas Senate and should take effect in September of this year.
The Houston Auto Body Association (HABA) hosted a legislative breakfast event on February 16 at the Capitol Grill in the Texas State Captiol.
Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) filed a new bill, S.B. No. 476, on February 1.
The bill would change current tax laws by reclassifying auto repair as a whole as a “retail trade” entity.
According to ASA Texas, automotive repair and collision shops owned and operated by new or used car dealerships are taxed at half the rate used to tax the independently owned shops doing identical work under current Texas Franchise Tax Code.
This is justified in the tax code by classifying dealership sales as “retail” and allowing their service and repair business to be included under that banner.
The Houston Auto Body Association (HABA) held their monthly meeting on February 1 at 7:00pm at Russell and Smith Collision Center in Houston.
Part of the night’s agenda was to have an open discussion with the 25 or 30 members in attendance and the HABA Board Members about conducting a labor rates survey in the Houston area and which company should do this.
“We are currently getting bids from independent survey companies to conduct a labor rate survey in Houston and surrounding areas,” said HABA’s President, James Brown, “We strongly disagree with the insurance industries determination of what the prevailing rate is in our area.”
Freezing temperatures, snow and sleet pummeled parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana as it made its way northeast earlier this month. The storm hit hardest from January 31 through February 3 and again on February 9 and 10, although the threat of snow loomed through the area for most of the month.
In New Orleans, a mix of rain and sleet fell on the city's northern districts and outlying neighborhoods. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency January 27 in anticipation of the weather, activating the state's Crisis Action Team to monitor possible hazardous conditions that could affect parts of the state. State government offices in 55 Louisiana parishes were closed on January 28 because of the wintry weather, according to reports made by CNN.
The snow hit hardest in Oklahoma, as residents continued to slowly dig out of 20 inches of snow, sleet and ice that shut down major interstates and forced the closure of airports, businesses and schools.
New Okalhoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak appointed Randy Brogdon to the Deputy Insurance Commissioner Consumer Affairs Division in early January. Brogdon quickly found that the Oklahoma Insurance Department's (OID) anti-fraud division spent most of its time looking at citizens allegedly committing fraud, not insurance companies allegedly committing fraud. Brogdon's main focus is the anti-fraud division.
Commissioner Doak felt that the Oklahoma Insurance Department had "lost sight of its core mission," according to Public Information Officer Shawn Ashley.
The 10th Annual International Mobile Tech Expo was held at the Richard Borchard Fairgrounds in Robstown, Texas, last month.
January 20 was education day , while January 21 and 22 held the expo itself. January 23 also held a few classes as well as the 2nd Annual MTE Golf Outing at the NorthShore Country Club in Portland as a wrap-up for the event.
On display at the expo was a complete array of new products, services and business opportunities that automotive appearance specialists are looking for.
The Northwest Louisiana Collision Repair Association had Caddo Career and Technology Center speak at their January meeting about their job shadowing program.
Caddo looks to place interns in their auto collision and automotive technology programs into positions in the field while in their junior and senior years at the school. The job shadowing program allows students to be an apprentice for a day at a local participating business and hopes to place students with those businesses for a more long-term study.
Buddy Anderson with the Caddo Career & Technology Center was at the NWLCRA meeting and said Caddo received great support from the local Collision Center's for the job shadowing program. Caddo would like to speak at NWLCRA meetings at least 3 more times before the end of the year to promote more Shops to get involved. The purpose is to have a student from the Caddo Career & Technology Center go to the participating Shop (Collision, Automotive, Glass, etc.) and "shadow" someone by being an apprentice for a day.
Texas Insurance Commissioner Mike Geeslin issued a biannual report on DRPs in Texas earlier this month, the report is derived from claims and issues in the industry, some brought to light thanks to surveys issued by the Houston Auto Body Association (HABA), to make future legislative recommendations.
A statement issued by Commissioner Geeslin back in August set the scene for the recommendations made in this bulletin. In the statement Geeslin addressed all ... insurers writing property and casualty insurance in the state of Texas, agents and representatives when he said, "The purpose of this bulletin is to remind insurers of their responsibilities to claimants regarding payment for damage to a motor vehicle and the selection of a repair person or facility ... The Department has received information which causes it to be concerned that insurers may be providing claimants with additional notice regarding motor vehicle repairs that may be in conflict with the TIC and TAC." The full text of this statement can be seen at http://www.tdi.state.tx.us/bulletins/2010/cc30.html.
Drivers in the city of Corpus Christi, Texas, now have even more incentive to abide by the state's car insurance mandate after local police began a new campaign this past weekend that targets the uninsured motorist problem.
Over New Year's weekend, a unit of the city's police department set up a number of checkpoints across the city where drivers were asked to show proof of insurance. If a motorist stopped at the checkpoint could not provide proof of coverage, the police were authorized to tow the vehicle to an impound yard.
For those who don't have coverage, getting caught while driving uninsured will likely end up costing much more than it would have been to simply purchase a policy in the first place. In light of this, Texas motorists may want to find and purchase a low down payment auto insurance policy rather than run the risk of large fines and potentially huge costs of causing a serious accident.
Texas Insurance Commissioner Mike Geeslin has announced that he will not seek another term as head of the Texas Department of Insurance. His term ends Feb. 1, 2011.
Geeslin has been with TDI for eight years, and has served as commissioner for five and a half years. Gov. Rick Perry appointed Geeslin to the post in June 2005, just months before Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the Texas and Louisiana coasts in August and September of that year.
Geeslin, who had served as Deputy Commissioner for Policy at the Texas Department of Insurance since 2003, found himself not only faced with presiding over one of the largest insurance markets in the nation, but directing recovery efforts in Texas for both hurricanes, as well.
In addition, a complete overhaul of the state’s workers’ compensation system was initiated in September 2005. Then, less than a year after the hurricane catastrophes, Geeslin was faced with placing one of Texas’ largest homeowners insurers, Vesta Texas Select, into rehabilitation and then liquidation.
The Texas Workforce Commission says the standard minimum unemployment insurance (UI) tax rate paid by Texas employers in calendar year (CY) 2011 will be 0.78 percent, up from 0.72 percent in CY 2010.
The taxes replenish the Texas Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund which provides unemployment insurance for Texas workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. TWC said the increase in the employer tax rate increase was necessary to offset two years of higher UI benefit payments. Taxes would have been significantly higher without the actions taken by the commission, including use of a public bond sale and suspending the deficit tax component of the tax rate.
The minimum UI tax rates are paid by 213,000 or 63 percent of all experience-rated employers. An employer paying the standard minimum tax will pay $70.20 in tax per employee in CY 2011 compared with $64.80 in tax per employee in CY 2010. The maximum UI tax rate, paid by 2.2 percent of Texas experience-rated employers, is 8.25 percent, down from a maximum rate of 8.60 percent in 2010.
Austin’s KXAN News has reported that eleven families received Christmas gifts and keys to a newly refurbished car, all for taking great care of their children.
Child Inc. enlisted the help of local car dealers and other donors to reward the parents for their commitment to raising happy, responsible and educated children.
Laurie Ann Pineda was one of them. She had been struggling to get to work after losing a child and emerging from an abusive relationship. The new car will serve as her safety net.
As people begin thinking ahead to 2011, one important change will be implemented for drivers with auto insurance. With the passage of increased liability limits in 2007, Texans will notice an increased insurance rate of two or three percent to cover the additional insurance protection in 2011.
While the two to three percent rate increase that is expected to come from the increased coverage limits is minimal, many consumers question the reason for the rising costs. According to CBS, the increase in auto insurance minimum requirements is meant to address rising medical costs associated with car accident claims. Rising medical costs, meaning the cost for post-accident medical care and treatment, have increased in recent years and, in 2007, the Texas Legislature took action in an effort to ensure that car accident victims have the proper insurance coverage.