Thursday, July 16, 2009

Public financing of statewide campaigns continues to make the news

Readers of "Wayne's World" may be interested in three columns about optional public financing as a campaign finance reform that also referenced my 2008 Insurance Commissioner race.

One of them is an op-ed piece I authored that ran in multiple newspapers statewide, including The Pilot of Southern Pines. For a presentation of my essay that includes video commentary and supporting links, go to this specific Voter Update link here, sponsored by the N.C. Center for Voter Education.

The other is by Chase Foster of N.C. Voters for Clean Elections that appeared in multiple formats, including here at this link. The full version of his article is at this separate link.

And the third is a national column by the organization Public Campaign. The profile piece provides the nuts and bolts difference between my traditional statewide campaign of 2004 and my grassroots, publicly-financed statewide campaign in 2008.

For background on previous coverage and blog posts of this subject, check out these additional links here and here.

All the above is especially relevant in view of pending legislation in the General Assembly to include additional Council of State offices in this voluntary program.

Editor's Note: Blogpost was updated to include recent national column by Public Campaign and the relevant link.

Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin Rolls Back Auto Insurance Rates, Freezes Them, and Orders Refunds

Goodwin Signs Settlement That Decreases Auto Rates and Freezes Them Until At Least 2011: Approximately One Million Policyholders to Receive Refund Checks Together Totaling more than $50 Million.

July 15, 2009

RALEIGH — Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin today signed a settlement with the North Carolina Rate Bureau that will roll back private passenger auto insurance rates to just under 2006 levels; the changes will go into effect on Nov. 1, and are retroactive to Jan. 1.

The North Carolina Rate Bureau (NCRB) is an independent organization that represents all auto insurance companies in the state.

The settlement does away with the NCRB’s implemented 9.4 percent 2008 rate increase and denies their 2009 request for an additional 1.4 percent rate increase and includes an additional .5% decrease. Under the settlement, the NCRB may not file changes to auto rates until 2011, which means that the maximum allowable auto rates are locked in until Oct. 1, 2011 at the earliest. This saves North Carolina policyholders an estimated $545 million over this time period.

“I’m thrilled that North Carolina drivers will see a decrease in their auto insurance rates,” said Commissioner Goodwin. “Drivers will not only see lower rates, but many will also receive refund checks beginning in mid-2010 that may together total more than $50 million. In this economy, every dollar counts, and I am committed to protecting consumers through fair ratemaking.”

The refunds stem from a dispute between the Department and the NCRB over rates ordered in 2008. During the appeals process, the NCRB implemented an interim 9.4 percent rate increase that went into effect on Jan.1 of this year. In cases where insurance companies charged policyholders more than the rates determined by this settlement, insurance companies are required by statute to refund the difference between the rates charged and the settled rates, with interest.

“With this rate rollback, the effect is that I will have capped rates for the five year period spanning from 2006 through 2011,” added Insurance Commissioner Goodwin.

The Department of Insurance has consistently issued small or no rate increases, and in many cases has ordered rate decreases. Combined, this has potentially saved drivers more that $5 billion over the last 25 years.

To learn more about this terrific news for consumers, a sample of TV video and newspaper coverage is here, here, here, here, and here. The Department's official press release is here.