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OEM repair issues have no place in public policy arena

Monday, September 3, 2018 - 07:00
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The 2018 state legislative season saw several states consider mandating the use of Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) repair procedures. This issue has been discussed ad nauseum in the collision repair community.

Why isn’t following OEM repair procedures a common practice by collision repairers? Why don’t all insurers require it as part of their direct repair agreements? Of late, the question arises as to “why policymakers are being brought in to referee what should be the accepted practice by all parties involved in collision repair, insurers, consumers and repairers?”

First, let’s take a look at what we saw in the 2018 state legislatures:

  • Indiana – The Indiana Legislature considered OEM repair procedure legislation that was amended to allow a work-around by recommending adherence to “industry standards” as an alternative to the vehicle manufacturer’s repair procedures.
  • Rhode Island – Rhode Island’s legislature sent the governor a bill that prohibits insurance companies from mandating the use of aftermarket parts without consent of the vehicle owner in a collision-damaged part of a vehicle under certain time lines. Important for this discussion is language that required the use of OEM repair procedures but for OEM parts only.
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  • Illinois – Legislation was introduced in Illinois that required estimates to include the use of repair specifications by the original equipment manufacturer for those parts, and no repair facility or installer may use repair specifications or procedures that are not in compliance with the original equipment manufacturer for those parts authorized by the customer in writing.

It’s important to note that common to all of these bills was an interest by grassroots shops, in those states, to see reform relative to OEM repair procedures. Indiana’s bill died in a conference committee. Including an “industry standards” baseline of repair versus OEM standards provided the path to the bill’s end.

Although Rhode Island’s legislation became law, it was certainly rendered less effective by restricting the OEM standards requirement to OEM parts only. The Illinois bill did not gain significant traction.

Mechanical repairers find the lack of scanning in the collision industry confusing.  Some collision shops are now, at times, without insurer reimbursement, pre- and post-repair scanning vehicles. Recently at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) during the Automotive Service Association’s (ASA) NACE Automechanika in Atlanta, Ga., CIC’s Governmental Committee addressed the topic of “OEM Repair Procedure Legislation, Review and Projections.” Led by ASA Past Chairman Darrell Amberson, panelists discussed the importance of using OEM repair procedures in a collision repair. In addition, panelists Janet Chaney of Cave Creek Business Development, John Eck of General Motors and Wayne Weikel of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (Alliance) highlighted the importance of scanning. Mr. Amberson noted that his firm conducted pre-and post-scans on client’s vehicles.

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