The Insurance Committee of the North Carolina House of Representatives invited Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin and his Legislative Counsel, Rose Vaughn Williams, to speak to it earlier today regarding potential insurance legislation for the 2013 Session. During the roughly thirty minute presentation, Commissioner Goodwin pointed to the following areas where insurance-related legislation might be anticipated:
- Expanding the state’s current captive insurance law; it is believed a bill will be proposed in the Senate in the near future.
- Commissioner Goodwin seeks increased authority over long term care insurance rates. This issue arose out of consumer complaints regarding sharp, unexpected increases in the cost of such coverage.
- Updating the state’s risk based capital requirements to obtain reaccreditation from the NAIC. This will prevent North Carolina based insurers from having to undergo otherwise unnecessary audits in other states where they write coverage.
- Preserving the authority to assist with appeals by consumers who have had health care coverage denied.
- Maintaining state control in the health insurance arena. Commissioner Goodwin did not delve into the details of the debate over the proposed health insurance exchange (which appears to be a lost cause), but he did make the point that, whatever one thinks of Obamacare, it is advantageous for North Carolina to retain as much control over healthcare as possible, rather than ceding power to the federal government.
- Commissioner Goodwin acknowledged there will likely be proposed legislation (not for the first time) to change the way auto insurance rates are set. He urged lawmakers to question why some (but by no means all) auto insurers seek to change the current system. He also emphasized that under the current ratemaking system North Carolina has the lowest auto insurance rates in the south and the seventh lowest rates in the country. He noted further that there are more than 200 auto insurers writing coverage in North Carolina, and that the Rate Bureau has not asked for rate increases in four years - facts which arguably suggest that the current system is healthy and works just fine.
- Finally, Commissioner Goodwin observed that there are ongoing challenges in the property insurance market. One problem that he noted was the difficulty the insurance industry has in obtaining adequate reinsurance in the event of a catastrophic loss, such as from a hurricane.