Nationwide Insurance urges Congress to defend Customer Choice and support the "Access to Repair Parts Act"
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 23, 2010
Elizabeth Stelzer 614-249-1025
Washington, DC – Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company today reconfirmed its commitment to customer choice by echoing its steadfast support for the “Access to Repair Parts Act” (H.R. 3059/S. 1368) as part of a hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary. Introduced by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), the legislation proposes a narrow exception to the U.S. design patent law that, if enacted, would protect customer choice. According to a letter submitted by Nationwide, the “Access to Repair Parts Act” protects American consumers by preserving a competitive market for replacement crash parts.
Recently, the International Trade Commission enforced a car company’s design patents on several crash parts, excluding them from the competitive replacement crash parts marketplace. By enforcing these patents, car companies can shut out their competitors creating an inequality of reward for car companies at the expense of the consumer.
“Unless Congress intervenes on behalf of consumers, car companies may continue this practice limiting customer choice and increasing repair costs during these tough economic times. Nationwide is committed to supporting the Act and the protection it gives to consumers. Without a permanent legislative change to design patent law, consumers are left at a clear disadvantage,” said Dave Bano, Nationwide senior vice president of Claims.
Nationwide believes consumers should be given a choice in the parts they use on their vehicles following an accident. For this reason, Nationwide offers its customers the option to purchase for additional premium, insurance coverage that reimburses for the cost of original equipment parts in the repair of vehicles as an option.¹ Those who do not choose this option have the advantage of lower insurance costs.
“Nationwide firmly believes in an open marketplace for replacement crash parts in the automotive industry,” added Bano. “This bill would balance the interests of protecting intellectual property and ensuring free competition by creating a limited design patent exception for crash parts.”
Nationwide is working with a diverse coalition of national consumer groups, aftermarket automotive companies and associations, automotive repairers, insurance industry representatives and senior citizens to deter a car company monopoly on automotive collision replacement parts. Reps. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), William D. Delahunt (D-Mass.), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas), Charles A. Wilson (D-Ohio), G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) and Deborah Halvorson (D-Ill.) are cosponsors of H.R. 3059.
Nationwide, based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the U.S. and is rated A+ by A.M. Best. The company provides a full range of personalized insurance and financial services, including auto insurance, motorcycle, boat, homeowners, life insurance, farm, commercial insurance, administrative services, annuities, mortgages, mutual funds, pensions, long-term savings plans and health and productivity services. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com.
Nationwide, the Nationwide Framemark and On Your Side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.
¹ Subject to certain policy terms and conditions.