The board of directors of the American Rental Association recently adopted an amendment to the ARA bylaws revoking the membership status of associate members providing insurance or insurance products to rental businesses. In a letter to a number of insurance carriers, obtained by RER, ARA has informed a number of insurance companies that they will not be permitted to “exhibit at, attend or participate in The Rental Show.”
The bylaw change states “a business engaged in furnishing or providing equipment, merchandise or services related to the rental business, but not otherwise qualified to be a general member; provided, however, that businesses substantially engaged in providing insurance or insurance products to Rental Business shall not be eligible to be Associate Members.”
The letter, from ARA CEO Christine Wehrman, adds that ARA does not preclude the insurance providers from continuing to market to the industry, and states that ARA “has not and will not suggest to its members that they should refrain from purchasing insurance or insurance products from your company.”
Insurance companies affected have protested the move. Brian Hall of National Insurance Specialists sent a letter to Wehrman asking her to immediately rescind the decision and “restore the original wording to the bylaws, and offer reinstatement to the offended companies.”
Hall said that many ARA members have called to support the insurance companies and that some have even cancelled their ARA membership.
While Wehrman was not immediately available to RER for comment, ARA responded, in a statement that “since ARA Insurance is wholly owned by the association, the Board has a duty to protect the product and trademark, and ensure its viability as a rental insurance choice for members.” ARA president Ted Cook said that it is a “benefit to members to have the choice among ARA Insurance and other options for insurance coverage, and that the board continues to support options in the marketplace.”
The statement adds that “ARA Insurance has always been and remains the only endorsed insurance program of the Association. ARA Insurance is committed to supporting the rental industry for all members regardless of where they place their insurance and have proven their support through the many risk management products and services all ARA members have available to them.” Cook adds that “ARA has not suggested and will not suggest that ARA members should refrain from purchasing insurance or insurance products from insurance companies other than ARA insurance.”