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Amendment to NC auto insurance bill rekindles industry feud

Published: June 18, 2013 By David Ranii
The complete article can be found here: The News & Observer

The internal feud among North Carolina’s insurance carriers over the way the state regulates auto insurance rates continues to bubble up in the halls and back rooms of the state legislature. FAIR NC, a coalition of insurance companies that this spring failed to win passage of a bill that would have remade the state’s regulatory system, hasn’t given up the fight. Now the coalition, which includes such companies as State Farm, Allstate and Geico, is seeking to amend a heretofore noncontroversial auto insurance bill that was unanimously approved by the Senate in April.

SB 180 would make it easier for individual auto insurers to offer special discount programs to North Carolina motorists. The proposed amendment to the bill, which is now before the House Commerce Committee, has drawn cries of protest from Nationwide Insurance – which led a second group of insurers opposed to FAIR NC’s bill – and Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin.

In addition to opposing the proposal itself, Nationwide and Goodwin are complaining that FAIR NC is distributing information to legislators that characterizes the proposal as a “compromise” that “includes proposals supported by the Insurance Commissioner and Nationwide.” “I’m at best puzzled,” Goodwin said. “I’m at worst angry in that the proposed amendment purports to be a compromise that I signed off on.”

Susan Valauri, a lobbyist for Nationwide, complained in a letter to members of the House Commerce Committee: “To suggest their amendment is a ‘compromise’ implies negotiation between parties. That has not occurred. It is also incorrect to assert that Nationwide supports proposals in the amendment.”

Goodwin called the proposed amendment “another attempt by out-of-state companies to change the system for their own benefit.” he proposal that he has seen, Goodwin said, is even worse than the bill that FAIR NC backed this spring.

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