Koster's office had hand in new bill

Bryan Cohen Jul. 8, 2011, 2:00am


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced on Thursday that he has signed auto extended warranty legislation into law that includes consumer protection language drafted by the Service Contract Industrial Council.

The legislation was drafted in conjunction with Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster. Missouri Senate Bill SB132 is designed to prevent companies from using unethical or deceptive marketing practices to sell motor vehicle service contracts, also known as auto extended warranties. The new law will take effect Jan. 1.

"The SCIC worked closely with Missouri attorney general Chris Koster to investigate and address misleading marketing practices of select St. Louis-based companies, including US Fidelis," Timothy J. Meenan, the executive director of the SCIC, said.

"At the urging of the SCIC, specific language in the bill prohibits individuals or companies from engaging in false, deceptive, or misleading conduct with respect to a motor vehicle extended service contract program, and authorizes restitution to any victims."

The bill more clearly specifies consumers' right to a refund if they cancel a motor vehicle service contract and requires that consumers receive a copy of the terms and conditions of a contract prior to sale.

The SCIC also worked extensively with Doug Ommen, Missouri's assistant attorney general, to create new licensing framework for Missouri-based businesses and individuals selling motor vehicle service contracts. The new licensing provisions allow Missouri regulators to actively monitor the sale of service contracts to consumers from the state to ensure that individuals and businesses are complying with all applicable law.

"Although current law provided a cancellation right, SCIC Model Act language clarified the rights of the consumer and the obligations of a provider," Meenan said.

The SCIC works directly with state legislators throughout the United States to regulate the licensing of service contract providers and to implement stringent financial safeguards. Currently, 36 states have adopted the SCIC Model Act in some form to regulate the providers of vehicle extended warranties.

Following the closure of hundreds of auto dealerships nationwide in 2009, state laws based on SCIC model legislation were instrumental in protecting consumers with service contracts. Many consumers experienced no disruption to their vehicle protection because the contracts were purchased, backed, and/or administered by independent, licensed providers and insurers regulated by state insurance commissioners.

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