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What They're Saying About "Modernization"

• Oyango Snell, Washington, D.C. lobbyist for insurers pushing “modernization”: “No company can promise that rates will go down with reform and modernization.”

• Asheville Citizen-Times editorial: “This push looks like a great deal for insurance companies. It looks to hold nothing but risk, and lots of it, for consumers.”

• Fayetteville Observer editorial: “Hang onto your wallet, they’re going to take another shot at ‘reforming’ our car-insurance system. Calling it reform would be funny if it wasn’t likely to be so expensive for car owners. For at least some of our lawmakers, it appears it’s more important to give insurance companies bigger profits than it is to keep our insurance rates low. … From a driver’s viewpoint, the North Carolina system is about as good as it gets, with low rates for good coverage.”

• Wilmington StarNews editorial: “It’s easy to see what’s in these bills for insurance companies, but there isn’t much in there for drivers. What the companies want is the right to raise rates, or to cherry-pick the cheapest risks while raising premiums, even on good drivers. … This is consumer-unfriendly legislation.”

• Rocky Mount Telegram editorial: “North Carolina’s insurance coverage is a good deal. It covers drivers in the 10th most populous state in the country at an affordable rate. … Of all the challenges facing the N.C. General Assembly, auto insurance system changes shouldn’t be one of them. Leave the system as it is.”

• Byron Storms, President of GMAC Insurance: “North Carolina drivers pay the 7th lowest auto insurance rates in the country. Why would any elected official or any North Carolina driver support changes that may cause auto insurance rates for more than 1 million drivers to increase significantly? We believe that young drivers and older drivers will likely see their rates skyrocket. Why would anyone want a system like that here?”

• Lee Morton, North Carolina Regional Vice President for Nationwide Insurance: “We appreciate the value of North Carolina’s unique, low-cost system, which is fair to all drivers, protects consumers from unjustified rate hikes, and encourages everyone to buy insurance, to the public’s widespread benefit. We do not believe the people of North Carolina want higher auto insurance rates, less independent oversight, more uninsured drivers, or a more volatile insurance market, which is what we think they would get.”

• Steve Carroll, Executive Vice President, N.C. Farm Bureau: “We should not change our system just because it is different. It provides stability and predictability and helps achieve the balance of attainability and affordability that is necessary for the protection of both insureds and the public. North Carolina’s system provides a highly competitive market, as evidenced by the strong advertising and marketing efforts of the industry.”

• Doug Dickerson, North Carolina Director, AARP: “For many in the state, the ability to own and operate an automobile is a lifeline to employment, food, medical appointments and other necessities. According to insurance industry statistics, drivers in North Carolina already benefit from the nation’s third lowest auto insurance rates. A legislative proposal to let companies raise rates 12% a year will have serious impact on North Carolinians who already are dealing with higher medical costs, rising utility rates, and higher prices for food and gas. Rising insurance rates could easily lead to immobility and to people being forced to break the law by driving without insurance coverage. AARP rejects SB 154 and HB 265 because these proposals are ones we cannot afford.”

• Richard Winkler, President of Alliance of Insurance Agents of North Carolina: "The AIANC board and its agent members oppose the proposed auto "modernization" legislation that will lead to much higher auto insurance rates. North Carolina has the 7th lowest auto insurance rates in the United States. We see no benefits in the proposed legislation for our consumers or agents. We believe that the proposed legislation would radically change -- and potentially disrupt -- the auto insurance marketplace in North Carolina."

• Jay Whittington, President of the Professional Insurance Agents of North Carolina: "State law requires North Carolina drivers to buy auto insurance. Consumers of this mandatory product deserve to know they'll get a fair rate approved by the Commissioner of Insurance before they have to pay it. North Carolina's current system is highly competitive and gives our customers very low rates. We think it serves consumers well."

• Stuart Lindley, President, Discovery Insurance Company: “Auto insurance competition in North Carolina has never been stronger. Neither consumers nor the Commissioner of Insurance has asked for changes. Rather, the proposed changes are motivated by insurance companies that want to charge higher rates. Currently, all companies utilize common policies and forms. Under the proposed changes, those would be replaced by countless different company policies and forms, resulting in confusion to consumers as they shop for comparable policies. Why fix something that ain’t broke? Please join our effort to keep auto insurance rates low in North Carolina.”

• Jim Martin, VP of Claims and Public Affairs, Southern General Insurance Company: “North Carolina’s automobile liability premium costs are lower than in any of our border states and rank in the lowest tier nationally. This affordability results in North Carolina having one of the highest compliance rates in the country. Senate Bill 154 / House Bill 265’s proposed change in the Reinsurance Facility, while attractive on its face, would actually result in an increase in the number of uninsured motorists on the road. And that cost would be borne by drivers who are following the law, because an increase in the number uninsured motorists drives up the cost of everyone’s uninsured motorist coverage.”

• Jim McCafferty, President, AAA Insurance: "The uniqueness of North Carolina’s auto insurance industry generates a competitive marketplace, a low percentage of uninsured motorists, and some of the lowest rates in the nation. Changing a system based purely on the fact that it is unique is not prudent. While AAA Insurance encourages the various government organizations to continue their search for more consumer-oriented approaches, we don't believe the current proposal in Senate Bill 154 / House Bill 265 will deliver this. Furthermore, the much greater need for change is within the property insurance market."

• Dean Kruger, Senior Vice President, Greenville Casualty Insurance Company: "Those who favor a radical change in North Carolina's auto insurance system often compare it to reforms in South Carolina in the 1990s. I was involved in those efforts, and I can tell you it's like comparing apples and peaches. South Carolina's system was broken and needed fixing. North Carolina's system is not broken, it is thriving. Our auto insurance customers in North Carolina have many choices, and very low rates. That's why our company opposes massive changes to North Carolina's good system, which works well for consumers."

• North Carolina Commissioner of Insurance Wayne Goodwin: “These proposals are pushed by out-of-state insurance companies that want to make more money off North Carolina drivers. … Car insurance rates will go up if these proposals become a reality.”