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Accident data bill returns in Springfield

November 22, 2010
Illinois senators are debating a bill that would make available any accident reports related to a vehicle offered for sale in Illinois. If Senate Bill 1839 becomes law, companies that sell vehicle history reports would add such information to their electronic reports, which would harm the values of used vehicles, including customer trade-ins. A similar bill stalled in 2003, despite lobbying by Carfax. Detractors of the new bill cite several faults, notably that Carfax would not guarantee the accuracy of any accident information in its history reports. In other words, Carfax would not be liable for an incorrect report, which would deflate the selling price of a used vehicle. Inaccuracies related to accident reports are common. Yet a dealer who sells a used vehicle without disclosing prior damage-known or unknown- can face demands of a refund by the purchaser or a lawsuit. Prosecuting attorneys in other states already point to Carfax reports as containing definitive information. Also, accident-scene damage reports merely establish whether the harm is above or below a $500 threshold. The reports do not indicate whether any damage should affect a vehicle's resale price. The CATA is monitoring the legislation. Dealers should be prepared to contact their state legislators if Illinois SB 1839 advances.