PA 09-237—sSB 457

Insurance and Real Estate Committee

Transportation Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING MOTOR VEHICLE REPAIRS

SUMMARY: This act prohibits an auto insurer, and its agents and adjusters, from (1) requiring an insured to use a specific motor vehicle repair shop to perform auto repairs or (2) stating that repair work will be delayed or not guaranteed if the insured has repairs performed at a repair shop that does not participate in the insurer's vehicle repair program. Prior law permitted an insurer to require a specific facility if the insured agreed to it in writing.

The act revises the written acknowledgement that a motor vehicle repair shop must obtain from a customer. Prior law required a shop participating in an insurer's repair program to have a customer's acknowledgement state: “I am aware of my right to choose the licensed repair shop where the damage to the motor vehicle will be repaired. ” The act instead requires all motor vehicle repair shops to obtain a customer acknowledgement that states: “I am aware of my right to choose the licensed repair shop where the motor vehicle will be repaired. ” The acknowledgement is in addition to, or may be part of, the customer's written authorization to perform work, which a repair shop must obtain by law before performing any repair work. As under prior law, the acknowledgement may be sent by e-mail or fax.

By law, a violation of any law or regulation that applies to its business as motor vehicle dealer or repairer licensee may result in a license suspension or revocation, a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for each violation, or both (CGS 14-64). Any person or corporation that violates any provision of the state insurance code for which no other penalty applies is subject to a fine of up to $15,000 (CGS 38a-2).

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009

BACKGROUND

Vehicle Repair Program

Some automobile insurers enter into contracts with specific repair shops that agree to provide services to customers at a discounted price. A person may choose any shop for repairs, but the insurer might only guarantee repairs performed at a shop that participates in its repair program.

Licensed Repair Shop

By law, no one may operate a motor vehicle repair shop without a Department of Motor Vehicle-issued new car dealer's, used car dealer's, repairer's, or limited repairer's license. A “motor vehicle repair shop” means a new car dealer, a used car dealer, a repairer, or a limited repairer.

“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.

“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.

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