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Rhode Island bill extends consumer protections around part choice

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Insurance | Legal
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A recently introduced bill in Rhode Island aims to extend the prohibition on the use of aftermarket parts while giving consumers the right to choose. 

HB7264 proposes insurers cannot refuse the use of OEM parts for vehicles older than 48 months and newer than 72 months. Current law restricts insurers from refusing OEM parts for vehicles less than 48 months. 

The bill and current law require a repair shop conducting business in the state of Rhode Island to receive written consent from the vehicle owner to use aftermarket parts.

The bill was introduced Jan. 24 by Reps. Arthur Corvese (D-55), Samuel Azzinaro (D-37), Brian Kennedy (D-38), Thomas Noret (D-25), Anthony DeSimone (D-5), Jacquelyn Baginski (D-17), Deborah Fellela (D-43), Scott Slater (D-10), Evan Shanley (D-24), and Jon Brien (D-49).

An error in the bill’s title and explanation by The Legislative Council claims the bill prohibits insurers from refusing to use aftermarket parts. 

Jina N. Petrarca, an attorney for Petrarca & Petrarca Law Offices, said Friday legislators noted the error during a Feb. 14 hearing. She said the legislators said the bill would be revised. 

Petrarca testified in support of the bill on behalf of Providence Auto Body during the hearing, she said. 

“It is a consumer protection bill that gives consumers a choice and is trying to keep pace with trends in extended years of average lease terms and financing as well as the number of years people are keeping their vehicles,” Petrarca said in an email. 

Petrarca said the Auto Body Association of Rhode Island also had a representative speak in favor of the bill. 

The Auto Body Parts Association’s Executive Director Edward Salamy submitted a letter to the House Committee on Corporations opposing the bill. 

“This extends the already stringent four-year restriction on aftermarket parts currently in place, which is the longest such restriction in the country,” the letter says. “This will only further impact the wallets of Rhode Island drivers with higher vehicle repair costs, increased insurance premiums, and longer repair times.” 

Salamy expressed concern about the potential consequences the bill could have on the association’s members and the Rhode Island automotive industry. 

“By limiting consumers to car company branded parts, it would result in higher costs for consumers,” the letter says. “The absence of aftermarket parts reduces competition, allowing car companies to set pricing without incentive for affordability.”

The bill doesn’t limit consumers to any type of part, but instead gives consumers the ability to choose and consent to the type of part used, and restricts the bill payer from denying that choice.

He claims aftermarket parts are priced 25-60% less than OEM parts. 

“Safety concerns often raised by car companies are not supported by evidence,” the letter says. “Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) have concluded that aftermarket parts are cosmetic in nature and do not compromise vehicle safety. The only significant difference highlighted is the considerable price variance between aftermarket and car company parts.” 

During a 2017, Collision Industry Conference panel Terry Fortner, then LKQ Corporate Accounts vice president, said consumer disclosure is important but opposed consumer consent because it helped car companies monopolize parts sales. Fortner was named executive director of Certified Automotive Parts Association (CAPA) in January. 

The bill has yet to advance out of committee.


Photo courtesy of DenisTangney Jr./iStock

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