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Rhode Island legislature passes OEM parts bill

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Insurance | Legal
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The Rhode Island legislature moved a bill to the governor that keeps insurance companies from refusing the use of OEM parts. The House unanimously approved it late Thursday night. 

SB2440 applies to any vehicle between 48 and 72 months after the date of manufacture if the repairer has written consent from the vehicle owner. 

Rhode Island already gives vehicle owners the same rights for vehicles less than 48 months old. If signed by the governor, the bill would be effective Oct. 1. 

Rep. Jason Knight (D-District 67) spoke in favor of the bill Thursday night prior to its approval. 

“I’ve been seeing in the media that this is yet another auto body bill and I don’t know who is behind it,” Knight said. “The text of this bill is good consumer protection. If I had a car that was four years old and had an insurance company trying to force an aftermarket part on me I’d be upset because I’ve had a car repaired with aftermarket parts that didn’t work out.” 

The bill was introduced Feb. 12 and passed the Senate Judiciary Committee April 30. It then passed in the Senate 33-4 on May 7 and House Committee on Corporations May 29

In March, Jina N. Petrarca, an attorney for Petrarca & Petrarca Law Offices, gave testimony during a Judiciary Committee hearing in support of the bill. 

“This bill is about consumer protection and choice,” Petrarca said. “Choice is the best form of competition.” 

Petrarca said the bill keeps Rhode Island law current with the trends. She said vehicle owners are maintaining vehicles for longer.

Consumers could also argue that if their vehicle came in for a repair with an OEM part the only way to make them whole would be to install an OEM part, Petrarca said. 

When asked about the companion bill by Repairer Driven News, Petrarca previously 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.”

Auto Body Parts Association Executive Director Edward Salamy submitted a letter to the House Committee on Corporations opposing the companion 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.”


Feature photo courtesy of pabradyphoto/iStock


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