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Amended NC auto insurance bill still faces opposition

Published: April 10, 2013
The complete article can be found here: The News & Observer

A controversial bill that would overhaul the state’s regulation of auto insurance rates has been modified in response to objections raised by opponents. But the changes, unveiled Tuesday in a legislative committee meeting, failed to win over opponents of the bill, including Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin.

The original bill would allow companies to opt out of the current system in which the state-created N.C. Rate Bureau submits an overall rate request for all auto insurers, instead permitting individual companies to set their rate as long as the average increase was no more than 12 percent per year. The amended bill sets a new threshold of 7 percent annually. “There was nothing magical about 12 percent,” Rep. Tom Murry, a Morrisville Republican and one of the primary sponsors of House Bill 265, said following a House Insurance Committee meeting. “I’m trying to build a consensus.”

Rep. Jerry Dockham, a Republican from Davidson County and chair of the Insurance Committee, said committee members would vote on the bill at next Tuesday’s meeting after hearing testimony from groups on both sides of the issue. The amended bill also would give the state Insurance Commissioner 60 days to challenge a rate increase set by an insurer before it takes effect. “We’re not taking the commissioner of insurance out of the process,” said Rep. Jeff Collins, a Republican from Rocky Mount, who’s also a primary sponsor.

That’s not how Goodwin sees it. Insurance Department spokeswoman Kerry Hall said that the changes outlined at the hearing aren’t sufficient for Goodwin to withdraw his opposition. The bill “could still amount to automatic increases year after year for drivers,” Hall said.

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