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WMABA urges opposition to model airbag bill

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Feb. 9, 2010--The Washington Metropolitan Auto Body Association (WMABA) is urging repairers to oppose the model airbag bill, which was passed by the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) to be used in individual states.

The bill provides a documentation process for the use of new and salvaged airbags to protect consumers from airbag fraud. Senate Bill 209 is now being proposed in Maryland.

The WMABA says the bill is harmful to consumers because it opens the door for insurers to use salvage airbags. This is a problem because there is no way of knowing the integrity of the vehicle the salvage airbag was removed from, the way it was stored, or the removal and delivery process, according to the WMABA.

“Salvaged airbags can come from any vehicle, but they are most likely to be removed from a vehicle that has been already total lossed by an insurance company for any reason from collision or fire to flood,” said Brad Whiteford, WMABA president. “As a repairer, we cannot accept the liability of the salvaged airbag not performing to OEM specifications in a subsequent crash.”

The WMABA also reports that no vehicle manufacturers endorse the use of salvaged airbags, and some manufacturers state that they could cause injury or death.

If this language is accepted, it will give incentive for salvage airbag use by insurers, says Jordan Hendler, WMABA executive director. Consumers who choose not to use them for safety concerns could then have additional out-of-pocket expenses for using a new OEM airbag instead of the salvage, where currently they do not, he added.

The bill was opposed by the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) during the NCOIL hearings.

A hearing for this bill will be held Feb. 11 in Annapolis, Md.

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