Auto insurance companies' bid to regulate illegal airbag use could save lives

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Auto insurance firms hope to make it illegal to possess or sell a stolen airbag

An insurance group hopes that states will tighten regulations on the installation of illegal airbags in passenger vehicles.

The National Conference of Insurance Legislators agreed that its model law would make it illegal to sell or possess a stolen airbag. States use model laws like NCOIL's to draft their own auto insurance laws.

The use of salvage airbags was more contentious, though. Automotive groups like the Automotive Service Association and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers oppose NCOIL's model law because it would allow salvage airbags to be installed in cars. Those groups claim that consumer safety is put at risk by salvage airbags, Automotive Body Repair News reported recently.

But auto insurance companies support the use of salvage airbags because they can be far cheaper than new ones. New airbag systems' cost can be substantial; some damaged vehicles are declared total losses if they need airbags replaced.

All parties involved in the model law discussion agreed that stolen or damaged airbag installation should be made illegal. Eighteen percent of the fatal accidents studied by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration involved a missing airbag, Automotive Body Repair News said.

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Posted: December 14, 2009

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