The “Consumer Access to Total Loss Vehicle Data Act” (S.545) would make available to consumers and to state and local law enforcement information about automobiles that insurers have declared a total loss. The legislation directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require insurers to disclose information pertaining to these vehicles, including through online auto services.
“An estimated half million vehicles were damaged by Katrina, and there is evidence that these cars are being cleaned up and sold to unsuspecting consumers,” Senator Lott said. “Many of these cars are unsafe and shouldn’t be on the roads. And consumers are overpaying for vehicles they believe are sound.”
ARA supports the establishment of a disclosure system that provides consumers themselves with valuable information that currently is only available to insurance companies and transportation officials.
Over the last year, ARA, along with a coalition comprised of automotive dealers, automakers, service organizations and others, has called for consumer-protection legislation designed to unmask fraud in the titling process by making total-loss data electronically available to the public. Educated consumers are less likely to purchase a wrecked, flooded or stolen vehicle that has been declared a total loss.
“Empowering consumers with a publicly accessible electronic database of total loss VIN's not only increases consumer protection, but will deter fraud by chipping away at the underground market auto supply,” said George Eliades, ARA executive vice president. “We look forward to Congressional debate on this bill to stop vehicle title fraud and help law enforcement crack down on criminals who alter titles on totaled vehicles.”
ARA encourages the Congress to consider including language regarding export of vehicles in any final VIN disclosure bill. The ARA views export provisions as a vital tool for law enforcement agencies to stop VIN cloning and to fight terrorism, fraud and other crimes.
ARA looks forward to working with the Congress to enact title and vehicle fraud legislation in this session.