Sponsored by Senator Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa), the bill is opposed by the Personal Insurance Federation of California (PIFC), the American Insurance Association (AIA), and the Association of California Insurance Companies (ACIC). The three organizations assert that they represent more than 90 percent of auto insurers doing business in California. The bill has not yet been set for legislative hearing.
Current law (SB 551—Speier 2003) guarantees California consumers the right to decide where their car is fixed after an accident. The newly-proposed law would permit some auto repair shops to steer customers to their shops by limiting the information available to consumers.
“Consumers deserve the right to have all information about repair options, including facilities with a proven track record of quality repairs, warranties and a hassle-free claims process,” said Janine Gibford, AIA assistant vice president. “Consumers should not be denied information because some auto body shops are afraid of competition and think that full disclosure will cost them business.”
“This is a special interest bill for auto body shops that are afraid of informed consumer choice,” continued Rex Frazier, PIFC President. “Why are auto body shops afraid to let consumers know which shops provide a better guarantee of repair work? Consumers should be able to choose any body shop they want following a crash, but they also deserve to know whether or not a particular body shop will stand by their work.”
“Insurance companies have a right to communicate information about auto repairs and a duty to make sure that their customers make informed choices,” said Jeff Fuller, ACIC general counsel. “We oppose this anti-consumer bill because it would violate rights and would prevent insurers from fulfilling their duties to their customers.”