Insurers Offer Some Info on Totaled Vehicles to Fight Title Fraud

Commercial Access Not Yet Available

WASHINGTON (July 1, 2008) - The National Automobile Dealers Association-a leader in the fight for total-loss vehicle disclosure-today applauded the efforts of the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) for creating a new Web-based service with total-loss data for consumers.

“This is a step in the right direction, but because the information is limited, we still need federal legislation that would expand total-loss disclosure,” said Ivette Rivera, NADA's executive director of legislative affairs. “We would like all insurers and rental car companies to leverage existing technology, such as vehicle history reports, to keep dangerous, rebuilt cars and trucks off the road to truly protect consumers.”

The NICB's VINCheck allows consumers to check five vehicles per day-one VIN at a time-for reports of severe damage, flood, or theft.  The Web site includes mostly insured vehicles, but lacks access to the records of self-insured vehicles, rental fleets and insurers who are not NICB members.

This information, available to consumers via a limited Web-database, gives consumers the ability to check whether a vehicle has been severely wrecked, flooded or stolen.  NADA continues to seek further transparency-through support of total-loss legislation in Congress-by urging insurers to make this same total-loss information commercially accessible to vehicle history providers so that dealers, vehicle wholesalers, auctioneers, and remarketers of used cars can provide another layer of protection for consumers.

“With hundreds of cars underwater throughout the Midwest, used car buyers need every tool available to ensure that they do not unknowingly end up with one of these refurbished flood cars,” Rivera said.

Each year several million cars and trucks are flooded, severely wrecked in accidents or stolen.  Many of these totaled cars are back on the road today because unscrupulous individuals rebuild these vehicles-wash the titles-and sell them to unsuspecting car buyers.  Millions of used vehicles are bought and sold at wholesale through auctions every year.  More timely, commercially available total-loss data would provide a powerful tool for the wholesale market to identify and track totaled vehicles.

Since the Gulf Coast hurricanes of 2005, NADA has been advocating for federal legislation, H.R. 1029 and S. 545, that would require the insurance companies to disclose the VINs of totaled vehicles on a more complete and timely basis and “red flag” potentially unsafe cars and trucks.

“NADA will continue to press for federal legislation to require all insurance and rental companies to make this same important information available on a commercial basis to dealers and remarketers of used vehicles, who as the first line of defense, play an important role in protecting used car buyers,” Rivera concluded.