ARA Amends Bylaws, Excludes Insurance Companies from Associate Membership

The American Rental Association (ARA) recently voted to amend its bylaws so that businesses providing insurance to rental businesses will no longer be able to use ARA logos or exhibit at, attend or participate in The Rental Show.

According to reports from the association, in March 2011, the board of directors of the American Rental Association (ARA) voted to adopt a membership policy (including an amendment to the ARA Bylaws), which provides that businesses substantially engaged in providing insurance or insurance products to rental businesses are not eligible to be ARA associate members and therefore, can no longer use the ARA logos and cannot exhibit at, attend or participate in The Rental Show, according to reports from the ARA.

Insurance companies affected by this action were notified that this membership change applies only on the national level, as state and local associations are governed by their own bylaws that guide their respective associations. No change has been made to the state and local association bylaws.

Ted Cook, ARA's president, was quoted as saying that ARA Insurance continues to bring choice to the rental industry. Since ARA Insurance is wholly owned by the association, he says the board has a duty to protect the product and trademark, and ensure its viability as a rental insurance choice for members. Cook notes that it is a benefit to members to have the choice among ARA Insurance and other options for insurance coverage, and the board continues to support options in the marketplace.

In the past few years, ARA reports it has heard from members noting their confusion about ARA's support of other insurance carriers. It is the association's stated position that ARA Insurance has always been and remains the only endorsed insurance program of the association.

This action does not preclude insurance companies from marketing to the industry through the normal practices of insurance sales and reinforces that the action taken by ARA pertains to the national level, the ARA reports. ARA members are free to purchase insurance products from any insurance provider they choose and are not required to purchase from ARA Insurance.

Reports say Cook states that while ARA endorses the ARA Insurance program, it 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.

Insurance companies affected have protested the move and reports indicate that some ARA members have even canceled their ARA memberships in support of the insurance companies.