NAII Implores Caution, Association Input in Calif. Crash Parts Study

September 28, 2001

A new California law that requires the state to conduct a study of the best process to certify automobile crash repair parts could result in more consumer choice and savings, according to the National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII).

California’s Department of Consumer Affairs study of cosmetic crash parts will include both generic auto collision parts, so-called “aftermarket” parts, and those made by auto companies, known as Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts, according to the law Gov. Gray Davis signed last week.

“We are encouraged that California is pursuing a comprehensive crash parts study by including both aftermarket and OEM parts,” said NAII Counsel Robert Hurns. “Aftermarket parts offer a reasonable alternative to OEM parts, costing an average of 60 percent less than OEM parts, and California consumers should have this choice.”

While the NAII is pleased that the state is incorporating the high-quality, lower-cost aftermarket vehicle parts in its study, it cautions the Department to thoroughly examine current certification procedures rather than create an unprecedented, separate state certification system. Hurns urges the Department to recommend the Certified Automotive Parts Association (CAPA) as the certifying authority for the state’s “aftermarket” parts.

With the NAII’s help, CAPA was established in 1987 to develop and oversee a testing and inspection program for certifying the quality of parts used for collision repairs. It was founded to promote price and quality competition in the collision parts industry, reducing the cost of crash repairs to consumers without sacrificing quality, Hurns said.

“Why should California reinvent the wheel when we already have CAPA,” Hurns said. “It would be extremely exhausting, time consuming, costly and unnecessary for the Department of Consumer Affairs to come up with their own certifying system when one already exists.”

The Department’s study, which should encompass criteria and standards necessary for certifying crash parts and include a recommendation regarding the appropriate agency to oversee crash parts certification, is due to the legislature by January 1, 2003. Gov. Davis signed this measure, Senate Bill 178, on Sept. 19.

SB 1178 was amended this summer, with the many changes benefiting consumers and the insurance industry. Originally, the bill would have established a Quality Customer Parts Council in the Bureau of Automotive Repair, which would make recommendations on whether aftermarket crash parts are “like kind, fit, finish, performance and quality” as OEM parts rather than consider a certifying procedure for both aftermarket and OEM parts.

California law currently requires repair shops to notify consumers in their written estimates that a competitive part is being used for the repair of a vehicle.

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