An all-new piece of legislation introduced in Maryland, Bill 1418 could have a dramatic effect for body shop insurers and also champion consumers’ rights in the event of an accident taking place in their vehicle as motoring public.
Unintended consequences. These words are heard a lot in the legislature, and often felt by constituents, whenever a well-intentioned bill results in a law that causes more harm than good. Such is the case with a new bill in Maryland that could have a dramatic, and, in WMBA’s mind, a potentially devastating impact on the state’s motoring public.
The good news
Introduced by Maryland delegate Mary Ann Lisanti (D-Harve de Grace), House Bill 1418 calls for insurers issuing automobile policies in the state to make it clear in their policy language that the insured has the option of requiring the use of genuine crash parts, certified after market crash parts of non-certified after market crash parts during the repair of their vehicles. The bill defines “crash parts” as fenders, bumpers, door panels, hoods, grills, wheel wells and front and rear lamp display panels. As defined by the bill genuine crash parts are “manufactured by or for the original manufactured of the motor vehicle to be repaired” and “authorised to carry the name or trademark of the original manufacturer of the motor vehicle.” Aftermarket crash parts are defined as those “manufactured by a person other than the original manufacturer of the motor vehicle to be repaired and for which the original manufacturer of the motor vehicle has not authorised the use of its name or trademark by the manufacturer of the crash parts.”
In terms of certified aftermarket crash parts, House Bill 1418 characterises these products as those certified to standards “established and made publicly available by a nationally accredited developer of standards for crash parts that is exempt from taxation.” The bills for certified aftermarket parts to be “developed in a consensus-based public forum that allows for public comment.” These parts would also be “subject to regular testing by an independent third-party testing facility to validate compliance” and “identified by a highly visible certification mark with a number that is 1-unique to a particular crash part and 2- designed to maintain a record of the crash part so that the crash part is traceable to the original manufacturer.”
The bad consequences
Although House Bill 1418 succeeds in providing clear definitions to the parts it lists, it’s what the bill doesn’t say that could be worrisome for consumers and vehicle owners alike. “It’s clear Delegate Lisanti intended to put together a consumer-friendly bill that addressed parts choice. That said, the removal of the original major components for the previous bill, such as the time frame for the required use of OEM or certified aftermarket parts, renders it pointless to our previous efforts. It does retain consent for the use of aftermarket parts, which is great, but that also is in conflict with the added-in language.”
However, without the bill fully encompassing parts choices, there is ambiguity in the language. That’s the part that kills effective enforcement. We have no enforcement for the language we already have on the books.
Legislation future needs
While a hearing on House Bill 1418 had not been held as yet, we believe at the time of writing, the way the bill is currently written puts us in the unwanted position to oppose even though there are still some good aspects, like the parts definitions themselves. We’d much rather come out in favour of legislation that helps repairers and the all-important customer.
“The positive to this bill is that we had clearly made an impact on those who did listen to the previous bill hearings when we were testifying on what we felt were important consumer choice issues,” she adds. “That’s what engaged the thought of this Delegate to reintroduce her version of the language. However, we have concerns over any piece of legislation going into the “sausage-making” process and coming out a bastardised version of our intention, thus killing the effectiveness of creating a positive impact on the consumer experience in collision events.”