The Automotive Service Councils of Kentucky is backing a sweeping piece of legislation, pre-filed this fall for that state's 2010 legislative session, establishing new restrictions on insurer steering, claims payment and damage appraisals. The bill (BR 70), introduced by Republican Senator Gary Tapp, requires an insurer to immediately inform insureds or claimants when they file a claim that they have the right to use the shop of their choice. Under the bill, the insurer may not request or require that the appraisal or repairs be made by a specific shop. Once a consumer has chosen a shop, the bill adds, "any attempt to change or restrict (their) decision shall cease." It specifically prohibits "deceptive referral practices," defined as "any trade practice by which a consumer's choice is changed, swayed or limited...by misleading statements, omissions, threats, deceptions, promises or inducements." The bill also would prohibit an insurer from limiting the amount it pays for repairs "on the basis that the repair would have cost less if it had been made at a particular (shop) specified by the insurer." In an effort to curtail "desk audits," the bill also would require anyone (other than the original preparer) changing or agreeing to changes of an appraisal or estimate to physically inspect the vehicle. Penalties for violation can include a fine of up to $250, imprisonment for up to 90 days, and forfeiture of any state insurance license.