AB 1200 on Way to Governor with Amendments
September 14, 2009
California Assembly Bill 1200, which would amend the state's anti-steering
law, recently passed the Senate with several amendments. The Assembly
has now concurred on the most recent amendments and sent it to enrollment;
once through enrollment, where it will be proofread and checked
for accuracy, it is scheduled to go to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
for review (CLICK
HERE for related story.)
The bill has undergone several amendments since it was first introduced.
Originally, it would have added the following language to the state's
"Nothing in this section restricts the ability of an insurer
to explain benefits the insurer provides as part of the claims process."
However, this language has since been deleted from the current draft
of the bill, and the following has been added:
This bill would authorize an insurer to provide a claimant with
specific truthful and non-deceptive information regarding the services
and benefits available to the claimant during the claims process
pursuant to the policy, as specified.
The latest version of the bill, passed out of the Senate recently,
removes the above text in blue, "pursuant to policy."
The bill had passed in the Senate with a close vote of 21-7 after
three different readings.
In the Assembly's latest analysis of the revised bill, released
last week, it notes that the recent Senate Amendments do the following:
- "Allow insurers to provide claimants with specific truthful
and nondeceptive information regarding the services and benefits
available to claimaints during the claims process. This may include
information about the repair warranties offered, the type of replacement
parts to be used, the anticipated time to repair the damaged vehicle,
and the quality of workmanship available to the claimant;"
- "Require that the written disclosure statement provided
by insurers to claimants, when an insurer orally recommends an
automobile repair dealer, be in separate and freestanding document;"
- "Add a sentence to the disclosure statement
would read: 'We recommend you contact any other automotive repair
dealer you are considering to clarify any questions you may have
regarding services and benefits.'"
The Assembly also notes in its final analysis that the California
Department of Insurance also is working on steering regulations
that will regulate when insurers can recommend a shop (CLICK
HERE for related story).
Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi's office has issued a statement about
the passage of the bill, saying it passed "despite the efforts
of a misinformation campaign." Hayashi was the original sponsor
of the bill.
"AB 1200 will enable each consumer to make a more informed
choice when selecting an auto repair shop under an insurance claim,"
reads the statement from Hayashi. "It authorizes insurers to
discuss services available in their claims process, including direct
repair programs- an insurer's network of auto repair shops that
can provide claimants with benefits such as warranties on repair
work, guaranteed prices, and the anticipated time to repair the
damaged vehicle. As afforded by California's anti-steering law,
the consumer continues to have the right to choose any auto body
shop they want or participate in the direct repair program."
Though opponents of the bill have argued that AB 1200 weakens the
state's anti-steering law, Hayashi disagrees.
AB 1200 does not end California's anti-steering law,
and such wording is nowhere to be found in the bill text,"
she says. "
AB 1200 stands on the belief that an informed
consumer can make the best choice. AB 1200 will give consumers information
about auto repair shops from a company they have entrusted to insure
them in times of need. The bill strikes a fair balance between giving
consumers a complete picture about their auto repair options, and
respecting California's anti-steering law, maintaining the requirement
that a claimant be informed in writing of the clear and unmistakable
right to select his or her auto repair shop of choice."
HERE for full text of bill as passed by both houses and in the
form in which it was sent to enrollment.
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