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Goodwin issues pre-emptive strike against auto insurance rate proposal

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Raleigh, N.C. — Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin came out Thursday against an attempt to resurrect a change to North Carolina's auto insurance rate structure that lawmakers killed last year.

The proposal, which the Department of Insurance said could be heard in the General Assembly as early as next week, would dismantle the North Carolina Rate Bureau, which negotiates rates for insurers with the state and sets the maximum allowable rates. Under the proposal, which technically doesn't exist yet but has been shared with lawmakers in recent weeks, insurers would be allowed to opt out of the Rate Bureau and set rates beyond the cap.

The House Insurance Committee defeated a similar proposal backed by large insurers such as State Farm and Geico in April 2013.

Insurers said then that the Rate Bureau prevents companies from offering various discounts and noted that they would have an incentive to keep rates low in order to compete.

Goodwin said Thursday that more than 2,000 discounts already are available in North Carolina, and he urged public opposition to what has been dubbed the "Good Driver Discount Bill."

"If this proposal passes, I am certain that car insurance rates will go up, even for good drivers," he said in a statement. "Despite what profit-driven insurance companies will tell you, I will have little to no authority to stop rates from going through the roof."

North Carolina has the sixth-lowest...

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