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Monday, 31 December 2007 17:00

Steering Is Still The Main Issue

The California Autobody Association (CAA) recently surveyed its members and steering was ranked as the number one issue facing shops. The CAA has always ranked it as one of the problems facing the industry. A few years ago we pushed for legislation and were able to get SB 551 passed, which became a model for other states to use in their fight for an effective steering law. But even with steering legislation in place, members have seen steering escalate.

 

In an effort to get a better handle on steering, the CAA, the insurance industry, and other groups have been meeting regularly with the California Department of Insurance (DOI). These meetings are meant to focus on issues such as steering to give the DOI some concrete direction.

 

The CAA believes that Section 758.5(c) of the insurance code specifically states that insurers are illegally steering if they attempt to alter a consumer’s right to choose a repair facility of his/her choice by offering incentives or alluding to possible problems that consumers may face if they stick with their original choice.


On the other side, insurers believe they can go beyond explaining their policy (which is required by law) and explain the benefits to the insured of taking a vehicle to the choice recommended by the insurer.

 

Unfortunately, the consumer is stuck in the middle. The CAA has started a “consumer awareness” campaign that will focus on steering to bring this issue to the front of the line by educating the consumer with the help of the media and the shops.


The bottom line is that steering is not good for consumers. There has to be a strong deterrent to keep steering in check. In 2008 you will see a big push in California to accomplish this and other issues because groups are beginning to work together and national groups are taking an active role. The frustration that shops have been feeling will start to see a positive shift towards reducing illegal steering in California.


        —David McClune, Executive Director, CAA

 

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