Friday, April 20, 2007

Keep Insurance Rates Low - Oppose SB 901 and HB 1430

If when you read this the 2007 session of the North Carolina General Assembly has not adjourned, then please contact your legislators and share your position relative to the resolution below:


WHEREAS, the Insurance Commissioner is a constitutionally-elected officer of the State and one of the members of the Council of State;

WHEREAS, the duties of the Insurance Commissioner include, among other things, (1) the setting of maximum rates for various types of insurance sold to citizens and businesses in North Carolina, (2) prevention of unlawfully discriminatory or unreasonable or unjustifiable insurance premiums, and (3) ensuring that the market for insurance in the State remains viable so citizens and businesses may purchase insurance at a reasonable cost while allowing a fair profit for insurance companies;

WHEREAS, Insurance Commissioner Jim Long has saved much more than $4 BILLION for the consumers of this State during his time in office by preventing unjustified insurance premium increases from going into effect;

WHEREAS, North Carolina has the 5th lowest automobile liability insurance premiums in the United States of America, bested only by several small states, and the 20th lowest homeowners' insurance premiums in the nation;

WHEREAS, Insurance Commissioner Jim Long declares that the system is not broken and, even if it needs correction, certainly does not justify giving insurance companies everything they demand, something which Senate Bill 901 and House Bill 1430 would do;

WHEREAS, legislation has been filed this year in the North Carolina General Assembly that would dramatically change the role of the Insurance Commissioner and provide insurance companies with an automatic right to increase their rates with a lessened ability of the Insurance Commissioner to protect the public;

WHEREAS, if insurance companies had had the benefit of their proposed changes to the law in 2006 then North Carolina's coastal homeowners would have suffered a 125% increase in their homeowners' insurance premiums and other parts of the State would have experienced increases of more than 50% in one year alone.

WHEREAS, the proposed legislation also reduces the amount of the refunds to which consumers are entitled if insurance companies are found to have charged unlawful, excessive or unjustifiable premium rates.

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that this county convention hereby calls for the defeat of Senate Bill 901 and House Bill 1430 in that these bills, if passed in their current form, would eliminate North Carolina's Commissioner of Insurance from the rate-setting authority (which are presently subject to legal challenges by the insurance industry), and would allow insurance companies writing insurance policies for automobile, homeowners, and workers' compensation to automatically allow increases in insurance rates (making them subject to legal challenges by the Insurance Commissioner).

FURTHERMORE, BE IT RESOLVED that this county convention firmly believes that shifting the burden of proof from the insurance industry to the Commissioner of Insurance is a dramatic change in the law that will enable insurance carriers to charge basically whatever they want, and that this shifting of the burden of proof will also put the costs of legal challenges on the State - that is, the taxpayers - rather than on insurance companies.

MOREOVER, BE IT RESOLVED that this legislation, if passed, would sharply restrict the ability of the Insurance Commissioner to protect the State's consumers and small businesses, disrupting a rate-setting system that has worked well for decades.

AND, BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that this county convention expresses its opposition to Senate Bill 901 and House Bill 1430 and strongly encourages its legislative delegation to do all in its power to oppose and defeat this legislation or any other legislation like it - this session and in any future session. This legislation does nothing except guarantee insurance premium increases for most consumers and small businesses, and strip the Insurance Commissioner of his authority.

This the 21st day of April, 2007.

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