PA 08-146—sHB 5152

Insurance and Real Estate Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING MOTOR VEHICLE REPAIRS

SUMMARY: This act requires a notice (1) in motor vehicle repair shops, (2) on a repair appraisal or estimate, and (3) on auto insurance identification cards informing customers of their right to choose the licensed repair shop that will fix their vehicles. By law, an appraiser and an insurer (unless an insured agrees in writing) are prohibited from requiring a person to use a specific repair shop.

The act prohibits a motor vehicle repair shop that participates in an insurer's vehicle repair program (which generally requires the use of a certain facility) from repairing a vehicle under that program unless the person whose insured vehicle needs repairs acknowledges in writing that he or she is aware of the right to have the vehicle repaired at a shop he or she chooses.

EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2009

CONSUMER NOTICE

Appraisals

The act requires appraisals or estimates for automobile physical damage written on behalf of an insurer or a motor vehicle repair shop to include this notice in at least 10-point boldface type: NOTICE: YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE THE LICENSED REPAIR SHOP WHERE THE DAMAGE TO YOUR MOTOR VEHICLE WILL BE REPAIRED.

Repair Shops

By law, repair shops must display signs showing labor and storage rates, informing customers of certain rights, and how to contact the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV). The act requires every motor vehicle repair shop also to prominently display a sign in the area where customers place work orders that is in boldface type and reads: NOTICE: THE CUSTOMER HAS THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE THE LICENSED REPAIR SHOP WHERE THE DAMAGE TO HIS OR HER MOTOR VEHICLE WILL BE REPAIRED.

Insurance Identification Cards

By law, insurers must issue automobile insurance identification cards annually, in duplicate, for each vehicle insured. For private passenger motor vehicle insurance policies delivered, issued, or renewed beginning January 1, 2009, insurers must include this notice on the identification cards in boldface type: NOTICE: YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE THE LICENSED REPAIR SHOP WHERE THE DAMAGE TO YOUR MOTOR VEHICLE WILL BE REPAIRED.

Written Acknowledgement of the Right to Choose a Repair Shop

The act prohibits a motor vehicle repair shop that participates in an insurer's vehicle repair program from repairing a vehicle under that program unless the claimant (i. e. , person whose insured vehicle needs repairs) acknowledges in writing that he or she is aware of the right to have the vehicle repaired at a shop he or she chooses.

The act permits the acknowledgement to be (1) included in the repair authorization, which a customer signs before repairs are made, or in a separate document and (2) faxed or e-mailed. The acknowledgement statement must be: “I am aware of my right to choose the licensed repair shop where the damage to the motor vehicle will be repaired.

By law, a motor vehicle repairer must obtain a customer's written authorization before making repairs (CGS 14-65f).

BACKGROUND

Licensed Repair Shop

By law, no one may operate a motor vehicle repair shop without a DMV new car dealer's, used car dealer's, repairer's, or limited repairer's license (CGS 14-52). A “motor vehicle repair shop” means a new car dealer, a used car dealer, a repairer, or a limited repairer (CGS 14-65e).

“Repairer” includes any person, firm, or corporation qualified to conduct such business, having a suitable facility and adequate equipment, engaged in repairing, overhauling, adjusting, assembling, or disassembling any motor vehicle. It excludes a person engaged in tire repairs, upholstering, glazing, general blacksmithing, welding, and machine work on motor vehicle parts when a licensed repairer disassembles and reassembles the parts (CGS 14-51(3)).

“Limited repairer” includes any qualified person, having a suitable place of business and adequate equipment, engaged in the business of minor repairs, including cooling, electrical, fuel, and exhaust system repairs and replacement; brake adjustments, relining, and repairs; wheel alignment and balancing; and shock absorber repairs and replacement. It excludes lubricating motor vehicles; adding or changing oil or other motor vehicle fluids; changing tires and tubes, including the balancing of wheels; or installing batteries or light bulbs, windshield wiper blades, or drive belts (CGS 14-51(4)).

OLR Tracking: JLK: JK: PF: ts