WASHINGTON (March 22, 2010) – The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) offered its support for the “Access to Repair Parts Act” H.R. 3059/S. 1368, which is the subject of a hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee today.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., introduced the bill as HR 3059 in the House and the Senate version, S. 1368, was introduced by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. The legislation provides a narrow exception to the U.S. design patent law to provide continued access to affordable, automotive collision replacement parts, at a time when Americans are looking for ways to save more and spend less.
“This legislation is vital to ensuring that consumers have an open and fair marketplace in auto repair parts,” said Kathy Mitchell, NAMIC federal affairs director. “By preserving competition and fairness in the marketplace, the Access to Repair Parts Act will help reduce the costs of repairs for consumers through less expensive repair parts and lower insurance rates.”
For more than 60 years, American consumers have had a choice when it comes to the repair of collision parts (i.e. bumpers, fenders, hoods) on their vehicles. Typically 26 to 50 percent less than car company equivalents, quality alternatives save motorists an estimated $2.8 billion per year. Recently, however, the car companies have been securing an increasing number of design patents on such parts. If car companies block competitors from the market, they could gain an effective monopoly, sending prices soaring and driving up the cost of insurance premiums by as much as $3 billion.
“NAMIC is committed to supporting the ‘Access to Repair Parts Act’ and the protection it gives to consumers,” said Mitchell. “As the largest association representing property/casualty insurance companies, we encourage Congress to preserve choice and competition by supporting this legislation.”
NAMIC is working with a diverse coalition of national consumer groups, aftermarket automotive companies and associations, automotive repairers, insurance industry representatives and senior citizens to deter a car company monopoly on automotive collision replacement parts.
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