Raleigh, N.C. — Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin says even good drivers could see their auto insurance rates go up under a bill filed in the state Senate Thursday.
An industry group counters, saying it would let insurance companies offer innovative products that lower rates.
Currently, companies that sell auto insurance in North Carolina have to set their maximum possible rates through the North Carolina Rate Bureau. They can set lower rates but are not allowed to charge more than the ceiling.
Senate Bill 154, filed by Sen. Wesley Meredith, R-Cumberland, would allow companies to opt out of that process.
“North Carolina drivers will benefit from a more competitive, free-market system that reduces bureaucracy and eliminates unnecessary costs,” Meredith said in a news release put out by the industry group pushing for the changes.
The group, Fair NC Rates, is backed by State Farm, Allstate, Geico and Progressive. Representatives of the group say the bill would clear the way for insurers like Progressive to offer discount programs like "Snapshot," which bases insurance rates by monitoring of how policyholders drive.
Still, not all companies back the bill, and Goodwin said it would bad for consumers.
"This bill will have a devastating effect on North Carolina drivers," Goodwin said.
Insurers could raise rates by up to 12 percent a year on average without going through any sort of regulatory review, he said.
"This bill will lead to people paying more for automobile insurance," he said. "It does not preserve my ability to review car insurance rates."
Particularly troubling, he said, is the measure would allow rates to rise on good drivers as well as bad ones.
But insurance companies say that customers will actually save money in the long run.
“Our independent agents want to be able to offer their clients the same innovative and cost saving products that all 49 other states offer to their citizens, and fully support changing this out-of-date, archaic system of pricing auto insurance,” said Kelley Erstine, chief executive of the Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina.