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Can total-loss legislation for flooded vehicles be resuscitated?

November 18, 2010

Aspirants to Congress are busily campaigning in their home districts, but the incumbents departed Washington, D.C., with a pile of unfinished work, including a bill to give consumers greater access to passenger vehicle-loss data held by insurance companies.


No action on Senate Bill 3707 has occurred since it was introduced July 20. It is uncertain the bill will be considered when Congress returns for a lame duck session after the Nov. 7 elections.


But as the country’s hurricane season continues, insurance companies total many of the vehicles that are flooded or destroyed by the storms. Unscrupulousrebuilders and resellers sometimes overhaul the cars, scrub the titles, and resell them to unsuspecting customers.


The legislation would require insurance companies to red-flag problematic vehicles, by making publicly available the VINs of totaled cars.


Such information would give purchasers—consumers and dealers—more complete vehicle histories prior to the sale, to help judge a used vehicle’s safety and fair market value.