Special commission supports legislative solutions to Massachusetts’ stagnant labor rates

Declaring that the state’s vehicle body labor premiums “must be addressed” following a lot more than a few many years of inaction by vehicle insurers, a Massachusetts commission has suggested a range of probable remedies, including numerous pending costs that would regulate reimbursed premiums.

The tips are contained in the ultimate report of the Distinctive Commission on Vehicle Overall body Labor Costs, the product of 4 months of do the job. The report was adopted by a 10-3 vote, with the panel’s 3 insurance coverage industry representatives all giving it an unfavorable recommendation.

Most of the tips included would legislate mechanisms for changing the labor reimbursement price, which, at $40, is the least expensive in the U.S. The amount is presently unregulated.

The report now goes to the legislature’s Joint Committee on Financial Providers and the Household and Senate committees on Approaches and Means.

Missing from the report are any suggestions from the state’s automobile insurance policies market, a issue highlighted by the Alliance of Automotive Company Companies of Massachusetts (AASP-MA).

“For many years the insurance coverage market has shown an incapability to even acknowledge the issue, nor adjust their business enterprise procedures,” AASP-MA said in its portion of the report. All through two community hearings, “they provided no feasible alternatives or remedies to suggest that just about anything other than a mandate would modify the company atmosphere. That mandate have to be that insurers compensate fairly and appropriately for the elevated price tag to mend today’s motor vehicles.

“The people in Massachusetts should have to be secured on our roadways. They should really also come to feel self-assured that their picked out collision mend facility is able to preserve team, education and tools needs, mainly because they would then be sufficiently reimbursed for the knowledge, expenditures and the legal responsibility included in the collision repair service method,” AASP-MA explained.

Legislators gave the fee a range of duties, including a determination of whether or not the existing labor costs are realistic, and, if not an analysis of possible remedies.

“The Commission recognizes that car human body labor costs should be dealt with and that the auto body labor fee has not elevated significantly because 1988,” the report states. “After conducting several community meetings and hearings, there are a multitude of solutions accessible to deal with the challenge highlighted in this report.”

Assorted choices

Two of the “possible options and solutions” provided entail pending legislation:

  • Adoption of a single of four bills – HB 1048, HB 1152, HB 1178, and SB 711 – that would build a legislated labor charge that insurers would be needed to spend. The fee would be established centered on the typical labor amount of surrounding states.
  • Adoption of 1 of two payments – HB 1111 and SB 709 – that would regulate the labor rate for 20 years of inflation, and index upcoming alterations to the region’s Client Value Index.

The commission also advisable the establishment of a lasting Labor Price Advisory Board, which would handle “any and all issues” associated to labor charges, and perform an annual labor fee study to be used in determining a “fair and equitable labor charge.”

The fee would incorporate the insurance coverage commissioner, the lawyer typical, associates of the auto repair service marketplace, insurers, vocational educational institutions, new car or truck dealerships, client advocate groups, and an economist.

The board would also obtain relative sector information, these kinds of as charges paid out in neighboring states, workforce details, vocational university tendencies, and insurance coverage premiums. “In purchase to give a very long-expression solution, the success of the survey and the selection of claimed data shall be reviewed and analyzed by the advisory board per year. This knowledge need to be utilised as components to deliver a foundation and suggestion for which the board can focus on a fair and equitable labor rate,” the report suggests.

Also integrated are the suggestions of the AASP-MA and the Massachusetts Condition Vehicle Dealers Association (MSADA).

The AASP-MA endorses a few techniques to boosting premiums. The 1st is an instant increase of $33 in the current $40 labor price, with annually changes based on the region’s Client Value Index (CPI). The 2nd is the passage of HB 1111 as proposed. The 3rd is passage of HB 1111, with an adjustment in the price correction time period, and a timetable of amount boosts that involves an speedy increase of $18 an hour, an raise of $10 in year two, and ongoing improves primarily based on the region’s CPI.

“The tiered roll out addresses the rapid have to have for an increase to carry professionals again into the marketplace, while earning the sector much more captivating to youthful persons in the vocational educational facilities,” AASP-MA said. “It also lets the insurance sector a corrective interval and the means to work out reimbursement their quality demands all through the changeover to a fair and equitable reimbursement rate.”

MSADA suggested laws that would give the state’s insurance policies commissioner authority to set minimum amount premiums, with all those premiums dependent on shops’ receipts for non-insurance coverage do the job compensated for by buyers. Testifying prior to the commission in the course of a March 22 public hearing, Sam Valenzuela of LaborRateHero observed information exhibiting that a excellent majority of consumers are willing to shell out $50 or far more.

“The totally free market in Massachusetts unquestionably would settle for these bigger costs that are important for stores to have a sustainably financially rewarding enterprise and all the factors that go alongside with that,” Valenzuela testified.

Though the status quo, amount placing based on negotiations in between overall body shops and insurers, was detailed among the “possible alternatives,” the commission noted that “This is not a feasible advice and will not supply a extensive-expression resolution to the difficulty of automobile entire body labor prices.”

James M. Murphy (D-4th Norfolk), 1 of the commission’s co-chairs, experienced inspired all engaged functions to post their possess recommendations. Yet the report incorporates no reaction from the insurance policies sector.

Voting in favor of the report were being state reps Murphy and Steven S. Howitt (R-4th Bristol), point out senators Paul R. Feeney (D-Bristol and Norfolk) and Ryan C. Fattman (R-Worcester and Norfolk), Michael D. Powers of the Massachusetts Division of Insurance policy, vocational college representative Kenneth Stukonis of Assabet Valley Regional Technological High Faculty Evangelos “Lucky” Papageorg, government director of the AASP-MA human body store associates Ray Belsito of Arnie’s Auto Physique and William Lamborghini of Full Care Accident Fix Services, and dealership agent William DeLuca of the DeLuca Relatives of Dealerships.

Voting against had been Samantha Tracy of Arbella Insurance policy Group, Michael Nastari of MAPFRE, and Paul Segota of Security Insurance policy Business.

No vote was recorded for Rebecca Dutra, representing the state attorney general’s office environment.

Repairer Driven News on Monday attempted to reach Tracy, Nastari, and Segota for remark. None experienced responded as of our publication deadline.

General public hearing testimony

During the Jan. 25 and March 22 general public hearings, dozens of car entire body professionals and vocational teachers testified about the hurt that the stagnant labor amount has completed to the marketplace, which has absorbed a long time of growing charges. Repairers famous that the low reimbursement level tends to make it hard to catch the attention of new technicians to the industry when they can make additional for every hour in many other similar fields.

The commission’s report notes that the normal collision repair service salary in Massachusetts is $47,400, even though the yearly mean wage for all industries, according to the Bureau of Labor Data, is $72,940.

The only presentation on behalf of the insurance plan industry was created on Jan. 25 by Christopher Stark, the government director of the Massachusetts Coverage Federation.

Stark advised the fee that the vehicle overall body labor fee paid out by insurers in Massachusetts has not risen in 30 many years mainly because of “market forces,” somewhat than price suppression by insurers.

Stark instructed fee associates that amplified competitiveness has led some system shops to enter into direct mend system contracts with coverage businesses and that the reduce labor fees that are component of these contracts determine into the industry’s determination of the prevailing labor fee.

Among the report’s appendices is a report from a related fee, compiled in 2008. That report’s findings ended up never followed.

The 2022 report also contains information about the change in the amount of car human body retailers in the point out given that 2008. It identified that there were being 1,686 shops in the point out as of 2022, a reduce of 119.

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