The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Auto Repair Industry Challenges Mass. Appointee

October 21, 2009

BOSTON --- Progressive Insurance executive Karen Mills resigned from the Massachusetts Auto Damage Appraisers Licensing Board last week, just two months after her swearing-in. 

Gov. Deval Patrick's appointment of Mills had drawn criticism from the collision repair industry whose representatives accused the governor of breaking a state law designed to keep the panel balanced between the auto insurance and collision repair industries, the Boston Herald reported. 

"It became clear that there were significant concerns about the makeup of the board," Leah Knapp, a Progressive spokeswoman, told the newspaper. "Karen felt it was in the best interest of all concerned for her to step aside." 

Mills' appointment touched off a protest from the Massachusetts Auto Body Association. The trade group threatened to sue after last month's board meeting, the Boston Herald reported. The law that established the board requires that the governor appoint two members affiliated with the collision repair industry and two from the insurance industry. A fifth member, chosen by the insurance commissioner, is supposed to serve as an independent chairman. 

In July, Patrick's office abruptly ousted Joseph Valarioti, a 15-year member of the board who runs Central Auto Rebuilders in Marlboro, to replace him with Mills. Critics said the move gave the insurance industry an unfair majority on the board. But state officials claimed the appointment actually rebalanced the board because another member, Joseph Coyne, was affiliated with the auto body side. But Coyne used to work for insurance firms and his appraisal business counts most of them as clients, the Boston Herald reported. 

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