Coalition urges state Senate passage to protect consumers from shady body shops
Making airbag scams a specific crime in Pennsylvania will save lives and deal a blow to insurance scams, the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud has urged the state senate majority leader.
“Airbags protect us from serious injuries or worse. We rightfully expect they will protect us during crashes. The use of counterfeit or non-functional airbags jeopardizes that expectation,” director of government affairs Howard Goldblatt wrote Sen. Jake Corman.
HB 1476 cleared the state Senate Finance Committee this week, and faces a vote on the full Senate floor. The Coalition urged swift passage.
Motorists face a serious safety peril. Knockoffs generally won’t open properly in a crash. Drivers have died and been injured in crashes involving non-functioning counterfeits or fraudulently removed airbags. Knockoffs also spewed shrapnel and flames at crash dummies in federal tests.
Dishonest body shops can easily buy knockoffs on the black market or mainstream sites such as eBay or Craigslist. Counterfeits cost just a few dollars, though shady body shops charge auto insurers $1,000 or more for legitimate manufacturer originals.
“The ethically challenged repair shop thus pockets a large and illegal profit. This is insurance fraud against the consumer and insurer, helping keep premiums higher for honest drivers in Pennsylvania,” Goldblatt wrote.
Thirteen states have made airbag fraud a specific crime in recent years. HB 1476 would add similar protections for Pennsylvania consumers, Goldbatt wrote.
A Chinese national named Dai Zhensong tried to flood the U.S. with fake airbags made in his factory in China. They looked like legitimate models from mainstream carmakers. His airbags spewed shrapnel onto crash dummies in federal tests.
Thousands of airbags made it to the U.S. Many could’ve been installed on vehicles. Zhensong’s network was dismantled and he received 37 months in federal prison.
“HB 1476 will help protect Pennsylvania consumers from counterfeit airbags and the public-safety problems they pose,” Goldblatt wrote.