Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

 

Raised Bill No. 896

January Session, 2009

 

LCO No. 2659

 

*02659_______INS*

Referred to Committee on Insurance and Real Estate

 

Introduced by:

 

(INS)

 

AN ACT CONCERNING THE REPAIR OF DAMAGED MOTOR VEHICLES.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 14-65f of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2009):

(a) (1) Prior to performing any repair work on a motor vehicle, a motor vehicle repair shop shall obtain a written authorization to perform the work, on an invoice signed by the customer, [which] that includes an estimate in writing of the maximum cost to the customer of the parts and labor necessary for the specific job authorized. A repair shop shall not charge for work done or parts supplied without a written authorization or in excess of the estimate unless the customer gives consent orally or in writing.

(2) In addition to, or as part of, the written authorization set forth in subdivision (1) of this subsection, a motor vehicle repair shop shall obtain a written acknowledgment that the customer is aware of his or her right to choose the licensed repair shop where the motor vehicle will be repaired. Such acknowledgment shall read as follows: "I am aware of my right to choose the licensed repair shop where the damage to the motor vehicle will be repaired." A repair shop shall not repair a motor vehicle without such acknowledgment, which may be transmitted by facsimile or by electronic mail.

(b) If the repair shop is unable to estimate the cost of repair because the specific repairs to be performed are not known at the time the vehicle is delivered to the repair shop, the written authorization required by this section need not include an estimate of the maximum cost of parts and labor. In such a case, prior to commencing any repairs, the repair shop shall notify the customer of the work to be performed and the estimated maximum cost to the customer of the necessary parts and labor, obtain the customer's written or oral authorization and record such information on the invoice.

(c) (1) If, during the course of performing repair work, the repair shop discovers that repairs other than those authorized are needed or that the cost of authorized repairs will exceed the estimate, and the customer rather than an insurer is paying for such repairs, the repair shop shall not proceed with the repairs without first obtaining the customer's additional written or oral consent and recording such information on the invoice.

(2) If the motor vehicle to which such repairs are to be made is the subject of an automobile liability insurance policy claim, prior to the commencement of such repairs, the motor vehicle repair shop shall give reasonable notice to the insurer or the insurer's representative of (A) the need for supplemental repairs, and (B) a period of at least three business days, excluding weekends and holidays, after receipt of notice to inspect the motor vehicle. Such repair shops shall not commence such repairs unless such insurer or insurer's representative has approved such repairs after inspection. For purposes of this subdivision, "supplemental charges" means (i) charges for additional parts or labor found to be necessary by such repair shop during the course of repair work where the charges are not included in the initial estimate of the parts and labor necessary to complete the repairs, or (ii) the amount of any deviation by such repair shop from any initial authorization for parts or labor as prepared by the insurer or the insurer's representative that is legally liable for compensating an insured for damage to the vehicle.

(3) Such insurer or the insurer's representative may waive the right to inspect a motor vehicle under the provisions of this subsection.

(4) No motor vehicle repair shop that fails to comply with the requirements set forth in subdivisions (2) and (3) of this subsection shall demand payment for supplemental charges from an insurer or from any other third party.

(d) No repair shop shall have a claim against a motor vehicle for repairs, other than for repairs actually performed and authorized, in an amount greater than that authorized by the customer under the provisions of sections 14-65e to 14-65j, inclusive, as amended by this act.

(e) If a motor vehicle is delivered to a repair shop at a time when the shop is not open for business, the authorization to repair the vehicle and the estimate of the cost of parts and labor may be given orally but shall be recorded on the invoice.

(f) Unless requested by a customer, the requirement for a repair shop to furnish an advance written estimate shall not apply to repair work for which the total cost for parts and labor is less than fifty dollars.

Sec. 2. Section 14-65h of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2009):

(a) All work done by a motor vehicle repair shop, including sublet repair work or repair work under warranty, shall be recorded on an invoice which shall specify the name and address of the repair shop, describe all service work done and parts supplied and state the cost of such service work and parts supplied, separately itemized. If any used parts are supplied, the invoice shall clearly state that fact. If any component system installed is composed of new and used parts, such invoice shall clearly state that fact. One copy of the invoice shall be given to the customer and one copy shall be retained by the motor vehicle repair shop. Any warranty made by a repair shop with respect to any repair work performed shall be stated in writing. If such written warranty does not include the cost of both parts and labor, it shall specifically state which is excluded from the scope of such warranty.

(b) The motor vehicle repair shop shall make available to the customer, if requested by the customer at the time written or oral authorization is provided for work to be performed, all replaced parts, components or equipment. If the repair shop is required to return such parts, components or equipment to the manufacturer or other person under any warranty or rebuilding arrangement, the repair shop shall make them available to the customer for inspection only.

(c) The motor vehicle repair shop shall make available to an insurer that issued the automobile liability insurance policy on a motor vehicle that has been repaired by such repair shop, if requested by such insurer or such insurer's representative, a copy of the invoice. The motor vehicle repair shop shall certify under penalty of false statement that: (1) Any deductible has been paid by the insured; (2) all repairs were made pursuant to the estimate set forth in subsection (a) of section 14-65f, as amended by this act; and (3) such repairs included all items authorized by the insurer.

Sec. 3. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2009) (a) Each motor vehicle repair shop, as defined in section 14-65e of the general statutes, shall employ at least one motor vehicle physical damage appraiser licensed under section 38a-790 of the general statutes, as amended by this act. Such appraiser shall prepare motor vehicle physical damage appraisals and estimates of the cost of repairs for such damages, and shall conduct all negotiations on behalf of such repair shop concerning such appraisal or estimate with the insurer that issued the automobile liability insurance policy for the motor vehicle that is the subject of such appraisal or estimate.

(b) No motor vehicle repair shop shall authorize any employee to issue nor shall any employee of such repair shop issue a motor vehicle physical damage appraisal or estimate of the cost of repairs for such damages if such employee is not duly licensed under section 38a-790 of the general statutes, as amended by this act.

Sec. 4. Section 38a-790 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2009):

(a) No person shall act as an appraiser for motor vehicle physical damage claims on behalf of any insurance company, motor vehicle repair shop, as defined in section 14-65e, or any firm or corporation engaged in the adjustment or appraisal of motor vehicle claims unless such person has first secured a license from the Insurance Commissioner, and has paid the license fee specified in section 38a-11, for each two-year period or fraction thereof. The license shall be applied for as provided in section 38a-769. The commissioner may waive the requirement for examination in the case of any applicant for a motor vehicle physical damage appraiser's license who is a nonresident of this state and who holds an equivalent license from any other state. Any such license issued by the commissioner shall be in force until the thirtieth day of June in each odd-numbered year unless sooner revoked or suspended. The license may [, in the discretion of the commissioner,] be renewed biennially upon payment of the fee specified in section 38a-11. The commissioner may adopt reasonable regulations concerning standards for qualification, suspension or revocation of such licenses and the methods by which licensees shall conduct their business.

(b) Any person who violates any provision of this section shall be fined not more than two thousand five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

(c) Any person who has been engaged in the business of motor vehicle physical damage appraising for a period of two consecutive years immediately prior to July 1, 1968, shall be granted a license upon application with no further qualifications. The commissioner may waive the examination required under section 38a-769, in the case of an applicant who at any time within two years next preceding the date of application has been licensed in this state under a license of the same type as the license applied for.

(d) For purposes of this section and section 38a-769:

(1) "Motor vehicle" is defined as provided in section 14-1;

(2) "Motor vehicle physical damage appraiser" means (A) any person, partnership, association, limited liability company or corporation which practices as a business the appraising of damages to motor vehicles insured under automobile physical damage policies or on behalf of third party claimants, or (B) any person who appraises or estimates motor vehicle damage on behalf of a motor vehicle repair shop, as defined in section 14-65e.

Sec. 5. Section 14-64 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2009):

The commissioner may suspend or revoke the license or licenses of any licensee or impose a civil penalty of not more than one thousand dollars for each violation on any licensee or both, when, after notice and hearing, the commissioner finds that the licensee (1) has violated any provision of any statute or regulation of any state or any federal statute or regulation pertaining to its business as a licensee or has failed to comply with the terms of a final decision and order of any state department or federal agency concerning any such provision; or (2) has failed to maintain such records of transactions concerning the purchase, sale or repair of motor vehicles or major component parts, as required by such regulations as shall be adopted by the commissioner, for a period of two years after such purchase, sale or repairs, provided the records shall include the vehicle identification number and the name and address of the person from whom each vehicle or part was purchased and to whom each vehicle or part was sold, if a sale occurred; or (3) has failed to allow inspection of such records by the commissioner or the commissioner's representative during normal business hours, provided written notice stating the purpose of the inspection is furnished to the licensee, or has failed to allow inspection of such records by any representative of the Division of State Police within the Department of Public Safety or any organized local police department, which inspection may include examination of the premises to determine the accuracy of such records; or (4) has made a false statement as to the condition, prior ownership or prior use of any motor vehicle sold, exchanged, transferred, offered for sale or repaired if the licensee knew or should have known that such statement was false; or (5) is not qualified to conduct the licensed business, applying the standards of section 14-51 and the applicable regulations; or (6) has violated any provision of sections 42-221 to 42-226, inclusive; or (7) has failed to fully execute or provide the buyer with (A) an order as described in section 14-62, (B) the properly assigned certificate of title, or (C) a temporary transfer or new issue of registration; or (8) has failed to deliver a motor vehicle free and clear of all liens, unless written notification is given to the buyer stating such motor vehicle shall be purchased subject to a lien; or (9) has violated any provision of sections 14-65f to 14-65j, inclusive, or section 3 or 6 of this act; or (10) has used registration number plates issued by the commissioner, in violation of the provisions and standards set forth in sections 14-59 and 14-60 and the applicable regulations; or (11) has failed to secure or to account for or surrender to the commissioner on demand official registration plates or any other official materials in its custody. In addition to, or in lieu of, the imposition of any other penalties authorized by this section, the commissioner may order any such licensee to make restitution to any aggrieved customer.

Sec. 6. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2009) (a) Any insurer that delivers, issues for delivery, renews, amends or endorses automobile liability insurance policies in this state may inspect a motor vehicle for which it has approved a claim for the cost of repairs to be made to such motor vehicle.

(b) (1) Upon notice from any such insurer, a motor vehicle repair shop, as defined in section 14-65e of the general statutes, shall make such motor vehicle available for inspection by the insurer's representative, who shall be a motor vehicle physical damage appraiser licensed under section 38a-790 of the general statutes, as amended by this act. Such inspection shall be performed during such repair shop's normal business hours, beginning with the next business day after receipt of such notice.

(2) The insurer's representative shall be allowed to conduct an inspection without interference from the motor vehicle repair shop's employees or personnel.

(3) Upon request by such representative, the repair shop shall provide a copy of all invoices and receipts for all parts purchased by such repair shop for repairs to such motor vehicle.

Sec. 7. Section 14-65m is repealed. (Effective October 1, 2009)

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

October 1, 2009

14-65f

Sec. 2

October 1, 2009

14-65h

Sec. 3

October 1, 2009

New section

Sec. 4

October 1, 2009

38a-790

Sec. 5

October 1, 2009

14-64

Sec. 6

October 1, 2009

New section

Sec. 7

October 1, 2009

Repealer section

Statement of Purpose:

To protect consumers' rights, ensure quality and prevent fraud in the repair of damaged motor vehicles.

[Proposed deletions are enclosed in brackets. Proposed additions are indicated by underline, except that when the entire text of a bill or resolution or a section of a bill or resolution is new, it is not underlined.]