Government Affairs

Published quarterly, these reports cover activities in government affairs and public outreach. Click on image to download a pdf of the latest reports.

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In this issue:

* Can joining forces tip the balances on anti-fraud legislation?

* Four Questions Interview with Matthew Capece

* Alliance chasing after storm-chasing N.Y. contractors

* Just in case: latest court ruling

* Allying with carpenters against workers-comp premium cheaters

Can joining forces tip the balances on anti-fraud legislation?

Insurer fraud plans, airbags and storm-chasing contractors formed a prime focus of anti-fraud action in statehouses as the sun rose on the 2016 legislative year.

Joint action with allies — traditional and unexpected — is proving a valuable commodity that allows fraud fighters to advance bills farther and faster than by acting alone.

Planning for fraud plans. Utah became the 21st state requiring insurers to have plans detailing how they’d combat fraud. Utah adds a new wrinkle — it’s the first state that requires insurers to prepare for data breeches. Most laws requiring insurer plans took effect before hacking and data theft emerged as major threats to insurers.

Fraud plans help insurers and regulators understand how the industry looks to deter fraud. Utah’s requiring a plan for data breaches could easily become a model for other states to adopt.

Popping airbag cons. At least three states are debating clamping down on phony airbags used for vehicle repairs. California, Pennsylvania and South Carolina have bills making it a crime to sell or install knockoffs in vehicle repairs.

Outlook promising. Similar bills have cleanly slid into law in 12 states over the last few years. Washington and Maryland already have enacted laws this year. Measures that so roundly protect drivers and passengers from being maimed or killed in wrecks tend to be well-received in statehouses.

The Coalition has partnered with Honda America to push for enactment in many of these states. We’re jointly active in California, Pennsylvania and South Carolina this year.

The Coalition supports airbag bills mainly because ...

Consumers threatened. Knockoffs don’t deploy properly. They’re cheap and poorly made. Motorists have been killed and grievously injured in crashes after sleazy body shops installed knockoffs. Body shops also have filled airbag cavities with beer cans, sneakers and other refuse.

Insurers bilked. Body shops buy cheap knockoffs on the black market, or openly on sites such as eBay and Craigslist. Counterfeits often are cleverly made to mimic legitimate manufacturer models. Knockoffs typically cost a few dollars. Yet dishonest body shops charge auto insurers $1,000 or more for a new manufacturer original. Insurers often unknowingly pay up because scams can be hard to detect — a trained technician is needed to open the airbag lid to avoid causing an explosion.

Assignment of benefits: Florida’s statehouse closed for the year. Left on the table were bills cracking down on contractors and auto-glass repair shops that illicitly lure policyholders into signing over control of their insurance benefits.

Thusly armed, contractors and glass shops sue insurers for inflated bills in the policyholder’s name. The insureds typically know nothing about the suits. Until they end up with large and possibly false claims against their policies. Assigning benefits is a widespread abuse in Florida, especially in South Florida. Consumers need stronger protections in the Sunshine State.