Some Florida independent auto glass shops have come together to combat the proposed legislation that’s sitting in the state’s Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism under the auspices of the Florida Independent Glass Association (FIGA), a not-for-profit organization which was formed in September. If passed, the bill would require an insurer to inspect the windshield before it is repaired or replaced.
“On its face, the bill looked harmless; it simply stated that insurers would have a legal right to perform inspections on windshields before authorizing repair or replacement. We all know that the insurers already have this right contractually,” says Rob Arnold with Mr. Auto Glass in Palm Harbor, Fla., in a Facebook post. “The real reason for the bill was to try and change it at the last minute to be something far more damaging to our industry. So far, we have been able to thwart their efforts through lobbying and educating the legislators about the realities of our industry. Amendments have been added to the current bill that will make it less appealing to the insurance industry.”
FIGA’s registered agent Brain Motroni of the Hunter Law Group in Tampa, says the organization has been in the works for some time now after a few independent owners came forth and expressed interest in creating a group that could help combat misinformation provided by auto insurers.
“[FIGA] is new, and it’s [membership] is growing,” Motroni says. “It’s a recognition that the industry is under attack by the insurance companies, and it was also formed to educate legislators about the realities of the industry from the perspective of the independent shop owners.”
According to Motroni, FIGA membership is strictly for independent auto glass shops, and the organization has several members already, though he was uncertain as to the exact number.
Arnold says that “FIGA has hired the lobbying firm of Corcoran and Johnston [Government Relations].”
The proposed bill was introduced and passed in the Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance, but two committee members made amendments before the hearing concluded.
“An inspection required by an insurer must be performed by an adjuster licensed in this state who is an employee of the insured’s insurer and must be performed within 24 hours after notice of the claim, or the right to an inspection is waived,” the amendment reads. “However, an insurer may not require an inspection in any case where windshield damage has demonstrably impacted the structural integrity of the vehicle or where continued use of the vehicle would be a violation [of state law].”
“I am calling on my brothers (and sisters) in the industry to come to Tallahassee and speak out …,” Arnold says in his post. “…There may be certain issues we all disagree about, but the one thing I think we can all agree on is that if the insurers get their way we will all lose in the long run,” he continues.
The bill will be heard on Monday, January 29 at 4 p.m.