Florida’s Senate Banking and Insurance committee meeting ended in a split four-to-four vote on proposed legislation that proponents claimed would help decrease alleged auto glass repair and replacement fraud. The bill, discussed in yesterday’s meeting, sought to prohibit auto glass repair and replacement shops from offering rebates or other incentives, such as gift cards, in exchange for motorists making insurance claims for windshield repairs or replacement.
The legislation, also known as Senate bill S312, was first introduced in September 2019. Despite prior changes meant to address public concerns, some took issue with the proposed bill, requesting that further revisions be made.
“I have several problems with the amendment as it stands,” said Todd Palmer, Mr. Auto Glass co-owner, during the public testimony portion of the meeting. “The biggest problem is that it only addresses independent glass shops. It doesn’t address the largest glass installer in the state, Safelite. It doesn’t have anything to do with the network shops because it’s targeted simply at the independents.”
Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) highlighted some of the amendments that were made, and mentioned how the changes were meant to benefit the consumer. She also stated Florida still has an assignment of benefits (AOB) problem.
“Pursuant to the repair or replacement of motor vehicle glass for motor vehicles equipped with safety-related systems requiring calibration, [it is unlawful not to] provide written notice to the consumer that repair or replacement will require recalibration of safety-related systems and whether that calibration will be performed and meet or exceed the manufacturer’s procedures or specifications, and, if recalibration is not performed or not completed successfully, written notice to the consumer that the vehicle should be taken to be recalibrated by a professional capable of performing a recalibration that meets or exceeds the manufacturer’s procedures or specifications. Written notice must be in at least 12-point type,” a portion of the amended bill reads.
Although Palmer agreed that the customer should be made aware of recalibration services he argued against the language in the amended version of the bill, which states “the assignment agreement may not include services not provided, including, but not limited to, recalibration of safety-related systems.”
“As far as [re]calibrations, there’s a clause that says the insurance companies are not going to be liable to pay. It’s very ambiguous, and in my opinion it says the insurance company doesn’t have to pay for the recalibration and that it’s not a part of the AOB. That’s to the detriment of the customer period,” Palmer said.
Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) said he hopes to see the topic again. “I don’t think you can declare it dead at all. This issue is not going away… the Florida legislature has got to get it right,” said Brandes. “Car owners are tired of paying high prices for auto insurance, and one of the reasons their paying high prices is auto glass and these crazy claims.”
To read S312’s full text, click here.