Industry Reacts to Changes in South Carolina Legislation
June 4, 2012

by Katie O'Mara,

An amended South Carolina bill passed out of the Senate and is now in the House for a vote on the Senate amendments. If passed by the House the bill will go to Governor Nikki Haley to either be signed into law or vetoed. The bill would affect auto glass shops, insurance companies and third party administrators.

“We understand some insurers are not [pleased] due to limitations allowed in the bill concerning their insistence to communicate to insured ‘benefits’ of the policy,” said one auto glass shop owner in South Carolina who preferred not to be identified for fear or reprisals. “Glass shops know that's nothing more than marketing providers not chosen by the consumer. Glass shops also feel it’s a good first step, but the original intent of TPAs referring the bulk of non-choice work to themselves ... among other issues, is yet to be addressed.”

While some auto glass shops are frustrated with the results, others are trying to find the positive in a less than ideal situation.

“We didn’t get what we wanted, but I think there are some positive things in there. One of the things that is opens the door for is agents no longer being told they have to use this 800 number. It opens the door for me to bring new business in,” says Randy Browning, owner of Glass Express in Beaufort, S.C. “Everyone can read it a different way. The bill is really open for interpretation. There are some things in there that are going to need to be spelled out better down the road though.”

On the other side of the bill, third party administrator and auto glass repair and replacement company Safelite was pleased with the results of the bill.

“We are very pleased with the compromise reached in the South Carolina Senate on HB 4042. We are hopeful that the House will concur and that it will be signed by Governor Haley,” says Brian DiMasi, senior corporate counsel for the company. “In the end, all parties came to the table and worked very hard to address their respective concerns. Safelite has always honored customer choice, and this compromise not only preserves that choice, but protects consumers by addressing the rampant fraud in the vehicle glass industry in South Carolina.”

Supporters on both sides admit that the bill is a compromise.

“We were either going to get a compromise or we weren’t going to get anything,” says Browning. “I’m trying to look at the positive sides, but is it what we wanted? Absolutely not. We wanted a whole lot more.”

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