Obama Signs Bill Eliminating Insurance Comparison Booklet

President Barack Obama signed legislation into law last week lifting a requirement that car dealerships distribute an insurance comparison booklet they say has been phased out by technology and is burdensome to businesses.

The booklet, named “Relative Collision Insurance Cost Information,” contains claims data categorized by different makes and models of cars, which is used to compare potential premiums by their loss history. In 1993, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which updates the booklet yearly with claims data from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), began requiring car dealerships to provide the document to consumers who asked for it.

Mississippi Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Jackson) introduced HR 5859 in May 2012, seeking to nix the requirement that he said had cost taxpayers “hundreds of thousands of dollars” since initial regulations in the 1970s began requiring that dealerships offer some type of coverage-comparison brochure to consumers.

“This bill is another step in peeling back outdated and unnecessary rules that businesses must deal with on a daily basis,” Harper said in a statement after his bill was sent to Obama last month.

The claims data contained within the booklet is categorized by vehicle models, which is information that “agents are trained to provide,” the White House said in a statement prior to Obama’s approval.

“A prospective buyer does not need a brochure from the federal government to obtain this information,” according to the 2011 statement.

Consumers simply do not ask request the document, likely because they have many other ways to find out how much car coverage will cost that takes into account factors more specific to their driving background, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA).

NADA conducted a survey of its member dealerships finding that 96 percent of its business members selling new cars reported none of its customers had ever asked to see the booklet.

“For all of the years I’ve been in business, I cannot recall that a customer has ever asked to see the booklet,” Bill Underriner, NADA chairman, said in a statement. “Printing and mailing this booklet has simply been made obsolete by technology.”

Harper also said that the data provided within the booklet is more valuable to “insurance actuaries” than day-to-day consumers whose coverage rates hinge on factors outside of the make and model of the car they drive.

Though HR 5859 lifts the requirement that dealers distribute the brochure, the data contained in it can still be viewed online on websites of federal traffic safety entities like the NHTSA and insurance trade organizations like the HLDI.

The information contained in the booklet can be found on the HLDI site here.

About Charles Nguyen
Charles Nguyen is an enterprising journalist who reported for Patch.com and the Desert Dispatch and was the editor in chief of the Guardian (the twice-weekly newspaper at the University of California, San Diego) before coming to Online Auto Insurance News.

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