AGRR Magazine

Wisconsin Assembly and Senate to Hold Hearings on Insurance Bill

by Penny Stacey

A bill that would prohibit insurers from requiring automotive repairs to be conducted at particular facilities, would mandate that insurers pay a "reasonable rate" for automotive repairs and would require insurers to post notices that an insured can utilize the repair facility of his choice currently is under review in the Wisconsin legislature.

The bill, which was co-sponsored by several Wisconsin senators and representatives, is being reviewed in the Assembly as Assembly Bill 353 and in the Senate as Senate Bill 181.

The Wisconsin Assembly's Committee on Insurance will hold a public hearing next Wednesday, July 11, at 10 a.m. at the State Capitol to discuss Assembly Bill 353, while the Senate Committee on Transportation, Tourism and Insurance also will meet on July 11 at 1 p.m., to discuss Senate Bill 181. Both are amendments to the current law, 632.37.

The current law prohibits an insurer from requiring that an insured have vehicle repairs conducted at a vendor specified by the insurer.

The current bills would allow the insured to seek an estimate or repair at any vendor and would require the insured to cover the reasonable costs of the repair, regardless of what facility is used. The bills would also require insurers to first ask customers if they have a repair vendor in mind and may make a recommendation only if the insured indicates he has not selected a repair shop and/or requests a referral.

The bill also would require that every motor vehicle insurance card after the effective date of the bill contain a notice that insurance companies are prohibited from requiring that repairs be conducted by a particular facility. It also would mandate that insurance claim facilities must post clearly that insurance companies are prohibited from requiring that repairs be completed at a particular facility, and would need to include the same notice at the top of every estimate issued.

Finally, the bill also would require that the insurer pay "the same rate that the general public pays in that geographic area, unless the insurer and repair facility have an agreement otherwise, and that the insurer may not limit or discount the amount paid on the basis that the repair would have cost less if it had been made at a repair facility specified by the insurer." While this sounds like a good anti-steering law, critics say it weakens the language already in law that protects Wisconsin glass shops.

The current law reads as follows:

An insurer that issues a motor vehicle insurance policy covering the repair or replacement of motor vehicle glass may not require, as a condition of that coverage, that an insured, or a 3rd party, making a claim under the policy for the repair or replacement of motor vehicle glass obtain services or parts from a particular vendor, or in a particular location, specified by the insurer.

While the original law contains anti-steering language for the glass industry specifically, the new amendments would remove the word "glass" from the law's language, opening the law to other sectors of the automotive industry, and would strengthen much of the language in the original law.

Since the new bill was introduced, it has undergone two amendments.

CLICK HERE to read the first of the amendments, proposed by Sen. Breske on June 15.

CLICK HERE to read the second of the amendments, proposed by Sen. Breske on July 3.

CLICK HERE to read the full text of Assembly Bill 353.

CLICK HERE to read the full text of Senate Bill 181.

Penny Stacey is the editor of glassBYTES.comô/AGRR magazine.

No reproduction, in print, electronic or any form without the expressed written permission of
Key Communications Inc. 540-720-5584.