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A California bill allowing vehicle owners to authorize their insurer to act on their behalf to arrange automobile repairs to their insured vehicle is, for all practical purposes, in the repair shop until 2006.After a heated debate in the Senate Banking, Finance and Insurance Committee, Assembly Member Calderon, sponsor of the Automotive Repair Dealers bill, accepted an offer July 13 to make AB 303 a two-year bill.The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies supports the bill because it ensures that consumers receive quality and timely auto shop repair service and acts as a legitimate mechanism to protect consumers from being overcharged for repair shop services.“When it comes to getting an automobile repaired after an accident, consumers should be allowed to receive the benefit of the insurance industry’s knowledge, experience and expertise in the area of automobile repair; and any legislation that offers consumers assistance in working with automobile repair shops should be fully encouraged,” stated NAMIC State Affairs Manager Christian Rataj.The bill “offers consumers a ‘choice’ as to where their vehicle is repaired following an accident,” testified NAMIC state advocacy partner, the Personal Insurance Federation of California. PIFC noted that “under SB 551 enacted in 2005, all auto insurers have a standard script that is read to policyholders who suffer accidents describing the procedures of the repairs, allowing choice of body shops and keeping the policyholder well informed as to total repair procedure.”Opposition to the bill came mostly from independent body shops throughout California. PIFC, on behalf of NAMIC and other members of the insurance industry, repeatedly argued that the bill was beneficial to a consumer confronted with having to navigate his way through the repair shop process after an automobile accident.NAMIC, through its state advocacy partner, PIFC will work with the California state legislature in 2006 to try and get this bill back on the road so that insurance consumers can benefit from the insurance industry’s desire to assist them in getting their damaged automobile in working order.