A bill to limit litigation tied to auto glass repairs died in committee Tuesday. The unexpected failure caught insurance watchers by surprise but one key lawmaker says the issue isn’t dead yet.
The first bill to go down in flames even before the Florida Legislature formally begins meeting deals with auto glass repairs. "The bill provides that the motor vehicle repair shops may not offer a customer an incentive for making an insurance claim to repair or replace their vehicle's windshield. Incentives can be things like gift cards, cash, coupons anything of value," explained Sen. Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) . But Florida Independent Glass Associations Rob Arnold says offering incentives help small business compete with big companies. "Our position is how do you throttle a business decision to how they give their bottom line," asks Arnold. "So, contrary to what a lot of folks think is they’re taking whatever incentive and slapping onto the back of the bill and handing it to an insurance company. It doesn’t work that way." The bill had several amendments tied to it, one would’ve allowed consumers to pay a deductible to fix their auto glass. Some senators opposed the idea saying it could lead to people driving with damaged windshields because of an inability to pay. That contributed to the bill's defeat. Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St.Petersburg) says he hopes to see the measure resurrected later in the session. “I don’t think you can declare it dead at all. This issue is not going away... the Florida Legislature has got to get it right," says Brandes. "Car owners are tired of paying high prices for auto insurance, and one of the reasons their paying high prices is auto glass and these crazy claims.” Brandes says the language could be added into any property and casualty insurance bill that may be filed.