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Tuesday, 12 June 2012 16:24

Rhode Island Bill Would Allow Repairers to Sue Insurers for Underpays

A proposal to allow auto body shops to sue insurance companies that do not pay them what they believe they should be compensated for repairs generated a fiery, hour-long debate on the floor of the state House of Representatives on June 11.

Supporters, including Rep. Stephen Ucci, a Johnston Democrat and the bill's sponsor, repeated the mantra that the bill would "level the playing field" between local auto body shops and auto insurance companies and ultimately be good for Rhode Island drivers.

But other lawmakers voiced concern that the proposal would only lead to higher auto insurance rates in Rhode Island, which already has among the highest rates in the nation.

Rep. Robert Watson, R-East Greenwich, called the proposal "special interest legislation" put together "on the fly."

"This is why we deserve criticism," he said. "Nonsense like this plays out in the final days of the session. This is wrong."

The bill ultimately passed the 75-member chamber on a vote of 38 in favor and 20 against.

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