A new bill filed in Congress is now pitting some car repair shops and car parts manufacturers with auto insurance companies.
H.R. 3059, known as the “Access to Repair Parts Act” is the brainchild of Representative Zoe Lofgren (D) of San Jose. If passed into law, U.S. could see the entry of more imported spare parts for vehicles. However, the parts specified in the bill only include collision parts like hoods, fenders, doors, and windshields.
So, what’s the fuss with this bill? Well, the specified car parts are mostly purchased by insurance companies, and not by consumers. The labor for replacing these parts is also paid for by the insurance providers. By allowing them to purchase and acquire spare parts from outside the U.S., repair costs could go down dramatically for the companies and consumers alike.
The bill also removes the complete legal protection that car manufacturers have for the design of their cars’ sheet metal encasing. Original Equipment Manufacturers are also poised to block the impending bill to prevent the entry of cheaper parts from countries like Taiwan and other countries. Some people have expressed concern that jobs in the U.S. could be affected if car insurance companies get their spare parts from other countries.
Collision repair specialists also say that most of the imported car parts are just clones of sample parts, not the real ones. This means that while they closely resemble original parts, they are far from perfect. The installation and use of these imported parts can spell disaster, they say.
Even car repair shops have joined the fray and in fact, associations representing these shops are gearing up to lobby for the legislation making it illegal for car insurance companies to force body shops to use imported clone parts. They contend that if clone parts do not meet specifications, body shops would have to foot the bill of sending them back or ordering new parts. Insurance companies are not required to pay car repair shops for the extra labor.
Analysts see a tough fight ahead for groups opposed to the bill. Several associations composed of insurance providers have expressed their support for the legislation. Among them are the American Insurance Association, Automotive Body Parts Association, Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, Consumer Federation of America, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, Property C