Leif Christopher Hansen (b. 1957) is the founder and owner of a chain of auto body shops, Leif's Auto Collision Centers.
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Leif Hansen was born in Bellingham Washington and raised in Oahu Hawaii. In 1986, he opened a Honolulu body and repair shop called Pristine Coachworks. In 1990, Hansen moved to Portland in order to invest in a new type of auto body shop. In 1991, he opened Olympic Auto, a one-man auto-body company that served about 80 cars per year. By 1999, the company had grown so much that the organization split into two separate entities - Olympic Auto Body and Paint and Leif's Auto Collision Centers.
As of 2005, Leif's Auto Collision Centers' flagship shop in Tigard was one of the largest in Oregon, employing 70 people and handling over 4,000 cars a year.
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In 1994, Hansen recognized that several autobody repair shops were paying kickbacks to insurance companies in exchange for referrals. This consumer "steering" by insurance companies was seen by some as a problem - especially as business owners like Hansen felt that insurance companies were pressuring them to cut corners in exchange for increase steering traffic.
This inspired Hansen to go directly to Oregon Legislature to protect consumers from illegal steering practices. In 2005 Hansen founded a consumer-focused political action committee, Oregonians for Safe Auto Repair (OSAR) to push for legislative changes. In June 2007, OSAR was successful in passing Oregon Senate Bill 523-A. On June 20, 2007, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed the bill with Hansen present. On January 1. 2008, Senate Bill 523-A officially became Oregon law. The law requires insurance companies to inform consumers that they have the legal right to choose where their vehicle is repaired. Under the law, insurance companies must inform consumers of their rights prior to making a recommendation for a repair provider. The law also prevents insurance companies from limiting reimbursement when consumers choose a repair provider without a referral from the insurance company.
Class Action Law Suits
Clark v. State Farm Mutual Insurance
Despite the law, consumers and auto repair shops like Leif's Autobody felt continued pressure from insurance companies to provide incentives for customer steering - specifically in the requirement of insurance companies to do work using refurbished instead of new parts. Hansen took additional action as a part of a class action lawsuit against State Farm in 2007 to directly combat this type of pressure. In Clark v. State Farm Mutual Insurance Company in 2007, judges threw out the case, claiming that it did not merit a class action status since the initial plaintiff Ricky Eugene Clark received a judgement award before additional claims came forward (Lief Hansen included). A judgement by the United States Court of Appeals,Tenth Circuit upheld the initial verdict.
Leif's Auto Collision Centers v. State Farm et. al
In this case, Hansen's company went to court against Oregon Mutual and Grange Insurance due to antitrust activities in relation to price requirements on repairs. The case was referred by the United States District Court for the District of Oregon to be a part of the nationwide antitrust suit (A&E BODY SHOP INC. et al v. 21ST CENTURY CENTENNIAL INSURANCE COMPANY et al) against some of America's largest insurance companies including Progressive, Hartford, and Allstate.
Both of these major class action lawsuits may have been instrumental in motivating other autobody shops to take action, as is evidenced by the increasing numbers of cases that are being referred to the A&E Body Shop case in Florida. These cases may also be the impetus for the recent request by Mississippi Governor Jim Hood for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to "investigate allegations that some insurance companies' are "steering" auto policyholders to certain repair shops and coercing those shops to use inferior replacement parts. In addition, these early cases may have inspired the recent increase of media attention from high-level news sources like CNN, USA Today, and The Insurance Journal
Leif Hansen is an advocate for his community members as well as his customers. In 2011, Leif's Autobody and Collision was the primary sponsor for the 20th Annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Portland, Oregon. Hansen's efforts helped the foundation raise over $2.5 million dollars in just two days
Source of the article : Wikipedia