Under current law, consumers have a right to select a repair facility to have their vehicle repaired. Unfortunately, some insurers use unfair tactics to "steer" consumers away from their chosen shop and into insurer-contracted repair shops. Although insurers have the ability to advertise and promote their insurer-contracted repair shops, some insurers make untruthful, deceptive and misleading statements to consumers that unreasonably influence a consumer's right to select the repair facility. The CDI issued regulations to clarify and complement existing law to prevent steering and ensure unfettered customer choice of repair shops and more timely damage inspections. The new regulations provided guidelines for reasonable timeframes for insurers to inspect damaged vehicles and identify what constitutes unreasonable distances in cases where an insurer requires the consumer to travel to obtain a repair estimate or have a vehicle repaired.
AB 1679 eliminates these important consumer protections:
· Consumers will now have to travel over 15 miles in urban areas and over 25 miles in other areas to obtain a estimate or to have their vehicle repaired.
· Deletes the requirement that insurers inspect a damaged vehicle within 6 business days, thus creating delays for weeks, while also creating unnecessary out-of-pocket expenses for consumers (e.g. rental costs).
· Requires consumers to obtain a second estimate from an insurer DRP shop even though the consumer already obtained an estimate from their chosen shop. Consumers currently only required to obtain one estimate.
· Opens the door for insurers to make misleading statements to consumers about their chosen shop.