Oregon Governor Slated to Sign "Right to Repair" Bill Today
Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski is expected to sign Senate Bill 523 into law today, according to Sen. Floyd Prozanski, who originally sponsored the bill. If signed into law, the bill will require insurance companies to inform customers that they have the right to choose an automotive repair facility before recommending a particular motor vehicle repair shop to make repairs to the insured's vehicle.'
In addition, the bill states that if the customer uses a shop recommended by the insurer, the insurer must provide printed correspondence saying that it recommended a repair shop. If the customer agrees to use that shop, then the insured's vehicle will receive repairs returning it to a pre-loss condition. If the insured has his repairs done at a shop other than those recommended, the insurer cannot limit the cost of repairs necessary to return the vehicle to the pre-loss condition under the wording of the soon-to-be law.
Prozanski, who says a lot of his senatorial work focuses on consumer protection and consumer awareness, also said he feels the bill is a positive one for the consumer. "I thought it would be a plus or benefit for Oregonians in the sense of [allowing] consumers to know what their rights are," Prozanski said, "that they have the right to choose whomever to do the repairs to their vehicles and that [it would be] understood early in the conversation that they would not be persuaded or urged … to go wherever their insurer was recommending."
The original bill barred insurers from suggesting a repair shop unless the insured requested a recommendation. The insurance lobby had that provision removed after a hearing in March.
However, Prozanski said the final wording was agreeable to him. "I had some concerns with the original language because it did not allow the insurer to even discuss options that they might want to present to their customers or clients," he said. "I believe truth in disclosure is important. But, if a consumer says, 'I don't want to hear it,' they can do that."
Prozanski sponsored the bill when he was approached by a group of independent collision repair shops who assisted in drafting the bill. "Based on the issue they wanted to address, I was very flattered that they wanted me to sponsor the bill," he said.
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