By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Major carmakers want U.S. auto insurance companies to help persuade millions of American car owners to get recalled vehicles fixed.
The new push comes as a U.S. House panel will hold a hearing Thursday on efforts by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to reduce the number of uncompleted vehicle recalls.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, representing General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co, Toyota Motor Corp, Volkswagen AG <VOWG_p.DE>, Daimler AG and others, and the Association of Global Automakers, representing carmakers including Honda Motor Co, Nissan Motor Co, Hyundai Motor Co, sent letters to the chief executives of major U.S. insurance companies over the last few days asking them to remind motorists of recalls when they renew their policies.
The letters reviewed by Reuters ask insurers including State Farm, Liberty Mutual, Geico, Progressive and Nationwide for "assistance in establishing a new way to provide vehicle owners with information about any open safety recalls that may affect their car or truck and to urge that owners have the recall work performed as soon as possible."
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an industry funded group, did not immediately comment on the request.
About 25 percent of all U.S. vehicles recalled are never fixed, the letter said. Carfax said in February that more than 47 million U.S. vehicles have at least one uncompleted recall.
NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind told Reuters on Friday that automakers can do a "huge amount" to improve recall completion rates. The issue has gotten renewed attention after the death of a 17-year-old motorist in Texas who was killed on March 31 when a Takata air bag inflator ruptured in her recalled 2002 Honda Civic that did not have recall fixes performed.
Automakers recalled 51.3 million vehicles in the United States last year, the second-highest ever after recalling a record 63.9 million vehicles in 2014.
Last year, Congress approved allowing up to six states to create pilot programs to notify owners of uncompleted recalls at the time they register their vehicles. In a letter last week to Congress, both auto trade groups asked Congress to approve $18 million to fund the pilot projects.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)