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Connecticut campaign targets insurer antitrust violations

Sunday, April 26, 2009 - 23:00

The Auto Body Association of Connecticut (ABAC) launched a national campaign to remove insurer interference from the collision repair industry. The campaign consists of two petitions to U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

The first petition is for leaders in the collision repair industry to sign and asks for the enforcement of anti-trust laws. “Conditions in the collision repair market are out of control,” the petition says. “Consumer rights are being trampled and independent repair shops are being put out of business. The repair industry and the millions of consumers serviced by it are suffering from the lack of legal enforcement.”

Click here to download the petition from ABAC’s Web site, www.abaconn.com. A second petition will be for all employees in the collision repair industry, according to Bill Romaniello, legislative director of ABAC and owner of All Pro Collision Repair in Plantsville, Conn.

“Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal attended the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) meeting in Hartford, Conn., on April 23, and he said he was aware of the concerns facing our industry,” Romaniello says. “He said he’s had conversation with other attorneys general about our concerns and would be willing to contact and speak with them to help our cause.”

The first petition says that “insurers, appraiser and even some direct repair shops are systematically conspiring to depress labor rates; to control repair decisions and processes; to channel or steer repair work to preferred repair shops; to boycott independent repair facilities; and to otherwise work together toward eliminating independent repair facilities in favor of insurer-controlled direct repair programs. Moreover, insurer control over appraisers has become so commonplace and incestuous that many appraiser are literally on the payroll and employed by insurers.”

The petition was well received by the National Auto Body Council, Collision Industry Conference and SCRS boards and committees at their meetings last week in Hartford, according to Romaniello.

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