Rhode Island’s proposed legislation addresses labour rates, shop classifications and parts

By Palak Palak

Providence, Rhode Island — March 24, 2014 — Rhode Island’s state legislature is currently considering two bills that would have significant effects on collision repair in that state. 

House Bill 7404, sponsored by Rep. Stephen Ucci, D-Johnston, would expand on current laws that require approval from the vehicle’s owner when aftermarket parts are used on vehicles that are less than 30 months old. The current law applies only to body parts. House Bill 7404 would expand the law to apply to all parts. 
The second bill under consideration is House Bill 7796, sponsored by Rep. Arthur Corvese, D-North Providence. The bill seeks to establish two levels of collision repair facilities: “Class A” shops, capable of repairing new vehicles, and “Class B” shops, that would work on older vehicles. Different labour rates would apply for each level. 
In both cases, the Auto Body Association of Rhode Island supports the bills, while Property Casualty Insurers Association of America opposes them. 
The Auto Body Association of Rhode Island has publicly stated that House Bill 7404 will help to safeguard the interests of the vehicle owner. A statement from Property Casualty Insurers Association of America says the proposed restrictions could increase the cost of auto body repairs, which is one of the many factors affecting insurance premiums.
The Auto Body Association of Rhode Island supports House Bill 7796, arguing that the bill demonstrates the changing face of the collision repair industry with the advancement and utilization of new materials in the newer cars. Property Casualty Insurers Association of America argues that as the “A” and “B” shops would have different labour rates, consumers may become confused, and insurance companies may be forced to pay more for the same service, depending on the type of classification of the shop making the repair. A statement from the association also says that the bill is aimed at decreasing competition among shops.
Both bills have been sent to committee for further study. 

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