The state Senate's insurance committee this morning heard a presentation on two competing bills that would signficiantly rewrite the auto insurance laws in North Carolina, including limiting the insurance commissioner's ability to regulate premiums. It's a complicated issue with different insurance industry interests lining up behind different bills.
So, the committee voted to send the matter to a study committee to work through the details. Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin opposes both bills, pointing out the state's low insurance rates as indication that the system doesn't need fixing. He called the proposals "the most dramatic change (to the auto insurance structure) in 35 years."
The bills would also phase out a surcharge that insured motorists pay to subsidize liability coverage for some drivers. The surcharge is currently 4.2 percent.
Sen. Bob Rucho, a Republican from Mecklenburg County, acknowledged it's a complex issue that deserved a closer look. "Not to look at reform and modernization would be wrong," he said.
This evening, one of the insurance companies, Nationwide, issued a statement praising the senators for studying the bills more closely. Nationwide opposes one of the bills, SB 490 sponsored by Rucho, which would bypass Goodwin and allow companies to raise their own rates substantially.
Nationwide’s statement: “We agree that lawmakers should carefully consider the impacts on consumers and the possible unintended consequences of dismantling North Carolina’s robust, competitive, stable, and low-cost auto insurance system, which Senate Bill 490 threatens to do. There is no good reason to abolish the current system, and plenty of reasons not to.”