The Arizona House of Representative Insurance Committee passed a sweeping automotive glass bill on Wednesday. The bill is designed to amend the insurance statute to regulate the marketing of automobile glass. See background on bill here.
The bill, “Unlawful Practices: Auto Glass Repair,” was approved by a unanimous vote.
Frank Thomas, of Thomas Auto Glass in Phoenix, Ariz., spoke in favor.
“Consumer safety is compromised when gift carding and cash spiffs are the reason for choosing one company over another,” he said. “A vast underground economy exists in Arizona with regard to auto glass, simply because anyone can start a glass company tomorrow with a business card and phone number. … I don’t believe that HB 2500 was drafted to enable steering or for one company to garnish more market share over another. I believe that HB 2500 is the first step of your awareness and a movement to provide safe windshield installations and protect Arizona automotive consumers.”
Also testifying in support were Marc Osborn of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America and Barbara Meaney of Safelite Group, according to a document from the Insurance Committee.
Several AGRR company owners voiced their opposition to the committee.
Rex Altree, president of the Arizona Auto Glass Association, said the bill “appears to be an excessive over reach by the insurance companies, Safelite and their associates and agents. … As an association, we recognize there are parties that operate in a fraudulent manner. However, this bill would punish the honest service providers while making no distinction between the two.”
Joining Altree to testify in opposition were Barry Aarons of the Safety Glass Association of Arizona, Shannon King, Blake Trickey, Bob Hittenberger and Kerry Soat, owner of Fas-Break in Chandler, Ariz.
“Most of the comments from the [committee] representatives dealt with their distaste for car washes, door-to-door salespeople and people on the side of the road,” said Soat. “My company has 85 operators working in some 20 states, and we operate in states ‘without’ the zero deductible. I wanted them to know that if the zero deductible disappears tomorrow windshield repairs would still be free in the state of Arizona because most of the insurance companies waive deductibles for repairs.”
Though the bill passed, several members of the committee said it should be rewritten prior to going to the House floor for vote.
“They are recommending that they add an amendment (or amendments) to get the bill into an acceptable form,” said Soat. “It will not pass in its present form and most committee members stated they wouldn’t vote for it on the floor if not changed.”
The next step is for the bill to be rewritten, Altree pointed out.
After the rewrite there will be a second reading, noted Thomas.
If it is passed in the House then it would go to the state Senate for consideration.
Safelite did not respond to a request for comment at press time.