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Lott Re-Introduces Bill to Protect Consumers from Unsafe  "Katrina Cars"

From: Office of Sen. Trent Lott      Filed 2/16/07 GCN

U.S. Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi has introduced a bill calling on insurance companies to help protect car buyers and highway travelers from unsafe cars totaled in Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters.
The “Consumer Access to Total Loss Vehicle Data Act” would make available to consumers information about automobiles declared a total loss by insurance companies. The legislation directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to compel all insurers to commercially disclose information pertaining to total loss vehicles, through various sources including online auto services like CAR-FAX. The bill would require insurance companies to reveal the reason for the total loss (flood, collision, stolen, etc.), the date of total loss, the odometer reading on that date, and whether or not the airbag deployed.

“After Hurricane Katrina, I was approached by responsible auto dealers in Mississippi concerned that flooded vehicles were ending up in the marketplace,” Senator Lott said. “An estimated half million vehicles were damaged by Katrina, and there is evidence that these cars are being cleaned up and sold to unsuspecting consumers. A number of these cars are unsafe and shouldn’t be on the roads. And folks are overpaying for vehicles they believe are mechanically sound. To the untrained eye, they appear to be in good shape. The disclosure my bill requires would allow anyone buying used cars to easily identify a rebuilt wreck, even if the title was washed.”

Senator Lott said that consumers should not have to rely on the various states’ titling processes because each state is different and, often, the branding information is not passed from one state to the next. When an insurance company declares a car totaled, the insurer assumes the title.

“The insurance industry should make this information available to protect the consumers, and we will be working to enact that protection in the 110th Congress,” Senator Lott said. “Buyers are entitled to truthful titles and complete information about a vehicle’s history.”

Senator Lott first introduced his bill last year, but no action was taken before Congress adjourned.

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