Collision Repair Association Concerned About Aftermarket Bumpers

February 4, 2010

Growing concern over the ability of aftermarket bumper reinforcements to protect vehicle occupants has prompted the Collision Repair Association of California (CRA) to ask California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner to require insurers to review claims where aftermarket bumper supports were used in collision repairs. And the association wants insurers to disclose this information to consumers.

The CRA, in a letter to the commissioner, noted that research by Toby Chess, a nationally recognized expert on vehicle repair, reveals that aftermarket bumper reinforcements lack the structural integrity to withstand collisions sustained by high-strength steel reinforcements used by vehicle manufacturers. In the past week, major aftermarket associations agreed to suspend distribution of aftermarket bumper reinforcements while one major insurer, GEICO, stated it would no longer use them. The organization is concerned that aftermarket bumper reinforcements may not be as structurally sound as high-strength steel reinforcements, yet some insurers have refused to pay for the stronger reinforcements in a claim.

“We want a recall,” stated CRA president Lee Amaradio, owner of Faith Quality Auto Body, Murrieta, California. “Our members have lost business to insurers that refuse to pay for high-strength steel reinforcements. These factory parts insure that air bags will deploy properly. Some, but not all insurers, favor cheap metal substitutions that reduce repair costs, but compromise the structural integrity of the vehicle. I hope Commissioner Poizner will do the right thing by requiring insurers to identify vehicles repaired with inferior bumper reinforcements. Furthermore, the owners of these vehicles must be informed by insurers that their vehicles were outfitted with inferior aftermarket bumper reinforcements.”

Amaradio noted that the CRA has always opposed the use of aftermarket parts that affect a vehicle’s safety. He said that Chess is willing to come to Sacramento to personally demonstrate the poor quality of specific aftermarket bumper reinforcements.

Amaradio added that state law requires an insurer to warrant aftermarket repairs when the insurer requires the use of aftermarket parts. “If insurers stand behind these aftermarket parts, they have an obligation to review the prior use of these parts when evidence suggests these parts may not perform as original equipment from the manufacturer,” he said.

“The CRA’s concern is for those consumers who are driving in vehicles that have been fitted with bumper reinforcements that may not afford them adequate protection in a collision,” Amaradio said.

The CRA, founded in 2006, is a trade organization of auto body shops.

Source: CRA

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