South Carolina Governor Signs Auto Glass Bill into Law
June 20, 2012

by Katie O'Mara, komara@glass.com

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has signed a highly debated auto glass bill. Included in the new law are requirements for TPAs to ask insured whether they have a provider of choice and that they honor that choice. The law also limits what TPAs can say about the provider of choice’s warranty.

“The insurer or third party administrator ... must not make statements regarding the warranty offered by the provider of choice. If an insured asks the insurer or third party administrator questions regarding a provider’s warranty, the insurer or third party administrator must refer the insured to the provider for clarification,” reads the law.

The new law also prohibits a vehicle glass repair or replacement facility from threatening, coercing, intimidating or engaging in unfair or deceptive practices in an attempt to convince the insured to file a claim for vehicle glass repair or replacement.

“The large contingent of South Carolina independent auto glass shops are pleased with a step in the right direction in the passage of H4042,” says Alan Epley, president of Southern Glass & Plastics in Columbia, S.C. “This group is very excited to build on H4042 in the next session to promote changing the current unfair trade practices now occurring with some TPA/competitors. It is also felt that price dictation/fixing of consumers proceeds from entities not in the contract of repair in a glass claim is to the detriment of consumer safety and competition. Our experience in the last rounds of compromise talks was that many carriers would not even agree to let their policy of insurance (entered into H4042 by legislative aids) determine consumer proceeds—much less, the open market. We look forward to educating lawmakers on these issues as well as hush-hush issues like the guaranteed average invoice agreements between carriers and TPA's adversely affecting consumers with claims and competition. Hundreds of South Carolina glass people worked very hard for the simple, original version of H4042 and look forward to grass roots lobbying for its original intent. “

“We tried to get it passed in 2007 and ended up having to come to a compromise and really no bill was put in place. This bill has gotten so watered down that it is not even about what it was originally supposed to be about, which is steering,” says Mary Anne Jones, owner of Absolute Glass Inc., in Lexington, S.C. “I definitely think Safelite still has the upper hand in winning. We had a lot of senators on our side, but there were several who were clear supporters, or recipients of financial contributions from Safelite from the get-go. I don’t think it is fair that is had to be watered down. We will just have to try again and keep fighting this battle with Safelite because they continue the same things. I’m glad that we have something on the books, but it is not completely what we wanted. Sometimes you have to start somewhere, but we would like to revisit it and make it better.”

“Safelite always honors the customer’s right to choose a glass shop, and HB 4042, in its final form, preserves and strengthens that right,” says Brian DiMasi, senior corporate counsel for Safelite. “HB 4042 also strengthens the fight against fraudulent vehicle glass claims, thus protecting South Carolinian consumers. We are pleased that all parties involved were able to reach a compromise and that Governor Haley signed the bill into law.” 

This story is an original story by AGRR™ magazine/glassBYTEs.com™. Subscribe to AGRR™ Magazine.
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