Under the Dome

Car insurance changes will wait until 2013

Legislators have talked for years about changing the way car insurance rates are set. A legislative committee vote Tuesday guarantees they'll keep talking about it for at least another year.

A committee on auto insurance voted Tuesday to tell the 2013 General Assembly to deal with it.

The Issue:  The state Insurance Commissioner approves auto insurance rates  that are recommended by the Rate Bureau. The state has a large residual market that includes "clean risk" drivers, which means they're in the high risk pool for reasons other than a bad driving record.

By law, "clean risk" drivers cannot be charged higher insurance rates, so a surcharge is added to the bills of other car insurance customers. Some insurance companies argue for changes, but there's no single industry opinion on what should be done, if anything.

State Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin wanted none of the suggested changes. Car insurance rates are among the lowest in the nation and lots of companies are willing to issue polices to North Carolina drivers.

What to do? Nothing for now. Legislative leaders want a short "short session" and changes to insurance laws will cause a lot of time-consuming tooth grinding.

"I really do think this is something the General Assembly needs to address," said Sen. Tom Apodaca, a Henderson County Republican. "Not necessarily this one. This is something we will tackle come January or February."

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