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2010 was a watershed year for the business community as Republican legislators—generally seen as more open to competitive markets—gained more than 700 state legislative seats, which allowed them to take control of many state legislatures. At the time, the National Assn. of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) and others in the insurance industry predicted that this massive turnover would result in more pro-business legislation, fewer fights to restrict underwriting freedom and turn back the clock on civil justice reforms.  

Were we right?  Well—essentially. None of the bills stood out as very good or very bad, but for the most part, 2012 was about progress and laying the groundwork for next year—assuming voters re-elect business-oriented state legislators in November.

Rate Modernization

For nearly 10 years, NAMIC’s top legislative priority has been the adoption of modernization laws, which created rate approval standards less restrictive than prior approval. Modernization laws help stimulate competition, benefiting consumers in terms of price and choices in the marketplace. We made progress this year in our efforts to educate legislators and regulators about the consumer benefits of modernization. But we were unable to get any bills across the finish line before the end of session. In North Carolina, an auto insurance study committee adopted a report calling for improvements in the ratemaking process. The committee’s recommendations will be taken up by the legislature next year. It also is worth noting that no attempts this year returned to prior approval. Hawaii did adopt SB 2769, which allows the insurance commissioner to impose temporary rates on insurers if rate filings are denied. The final bill included due process protections for insurers.

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