JANUARY 2010

NCOIL approves model airbag fraud legislation

The National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) Property-Casualty Insurance Committee adopted draft airbag fraud legislation that lays out a comprehensive set of policy options to discourage deceptive repairs and airbag theft.

The committee’s 20-5 vote for the draft legislation, followed by unanimous executive committee adoption included language that recognizes that non-deployed OEM airbags harvested from salvaged or end-of-life vehicles are in the marketplace and state legislatures should consider record keeping, handling protocol and disclosure of their use.

Over the five day conference, the Automotive Recycler’s Association (ARA) executive vice president, Michael E. Wilson, discussed with many state legislators the necessity of Americans to have proper functioning airbags in their motor vehicles. Throughout the conference, Wilson pointed to a recent review conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of 1,446 fatal accidents from 2001 and 2006 which found that in an alarming 255 instances – almost 18 percent – airbags that should have been replaced following deployment in a previous crash were missing.

ARA strongly supports the use of recycled original equipment manufacturer (OEM), non-deployed airbags which have met specific industry standards and that those evaluated recycled OEM non-deployed airbag components are a safe, economically-smart repair alternative to restore vehicles to their pre-accident condition. “The use of these evaluated components is an important component to help address the significant problem of airbag omission – where deployed airbags are not replaced – that the NHTSA study clearly points out exists,” said Wilson, “but, more importantly, extensive research and years of experience have proven them as a safe alternative as well.”

The NHTSA data points to a significant issue of ensuring that individuals who complete vehicle collision repairs and insurance total-loss vehicle rebuilds restore critical safety components as part of the repair and rebuilding process. Airbag omission is a serious problem with real consequences for the safety of American car owners and their passengers, and this practice must be stopped.

For years, recycled OEM non-deployed airbags have been an essential cost effective and reliable alternative to expensive new airbags. Thousands of totaled vehicles and lives have been saved as a result.

Despite being given multiple opportunities to provide technical data backing up their allegations against recycled OEM non-deployed airbags, the OEMs have conspicuously failed to do so.

Consumers benefit from competition, standards and safety and the only alternative to a new, expensive OEM airbag is a recycled non-deployed OEM airbag, which can save a motor vehicle owner up to 60 percent off the cost of one from a franchised dealer.