Newsletter November 2012

Damage Report November 2012

As we near the close of 2012, your new Board of Directors is looking to put in place a legislative and regulatory agenda for the coming two years. In 2012, the hard work of the independent repair industry in Massachusetts was rewarded with the double passage of the Right to Repair Act, both in the state legislature and at the ballot box in the recent election. As this newsletter is being assembled, the auto collision repair industry is waiting patiently for the final legislature’s final determination of the fate of the Auto Body Labor Rate Bill. If that bill is passed into law, 2012 will certainly be noted as a very significant year for repairers in our state. Bearing in mind that our industry has carefully crafted a solid reputation at the State House, backed up by a strong, well-organized grassroots “army,” it appears that we can now step up our efforts to achieve a more level playing field for the independent auto repair firms in Massachusetts.

Our board is exploring many possibilities. Certainly, inadequate body shop labor rates remain our number one concern, but there is a feeling that we need to move beyond that issue regardless of the outcome between now and the end of the year on the Auto Body Labor Rate Bill. AASP has chosen to focus like a laser beam on that issue for six years and our efforts have assured us that the Governor’s Office, the Division of Insurance, and the State Legislature are painfully aware that insurance companies have run out of excuses for the unconscionable disparity between the free market for insurance premiums and labor rates paid by those insurers to auto body shops for collision damaged vehicles. Now they need to act.

Beyond the labor rate issue, however, lies a wide array of issues that, eventually, AASP must tackle. Steering, the convenient and legally authorized bully tactic needs to be addressed. However, before we are able to craft our own anti-steering proposals – both in law and in regulation – we must grapple with the insurance industry over the DRP Bill that it, most assuredly, will re-file for the 2013 – 2014 Legislative Session. We were able to kill that bill this year, but we expect the insurers will come back with more fire on this bill in the future. In addition to fighting against the DRP Bill, we are likely to be faced with having to vigorously oppose the Anti-Fraud Bill that insurers proposed last session as well.

As for some new ideas, the board has already begun to explore solutions for a variety of issues, such as direct payment plans, so-called aftermarket or “imitation” parts, body shop standards (these were stripped from the Auto Body Labor Rate Bill late in the current session), arbitration procedures, business information privacy, insurer warranties, and unregistered shops, to name several.

You can be very helpful. We need to hear from our members regarding the issues you want us to tackle on your behalf. The AASP Board of Directors is NOT just a group of people who, on their own, create policy for the industry. No, we listen to our members and dedicate ourselves to making business conditions better for all firms in our industry. Contact the office today, at (800) 988-4378, and let us know what you’re thinking and what you think you’d like to see us pursue in 2013 and beyond.