For Immediate Release: May 3, 2010

Contacts: Kristin Milam 919-807-6011

2009 Auto Rate Settlement Refund Distribution Starts Today

Commissioner Goodwin orders approximately one million policyholders to receive checks totaling $50 million

RALEIGH -- Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin wants to remind North Carolinians that starting this week, approximately one million policyholders will begin receiving refund checks from their auto insurance companies totaling more than $50 million. The refund distribution is a result of the 2009 auto rate settlement with the N.C. Rate Bureau (NCRB) that Commissioner Goodwin signed last July.

"These refund checks represent instances where North Carolina drivers were paying too much for their auto insurance, and I'm glad that these extra premium dollars plus interest will go back into their wallets," said Commissioner Goodwin. "The refund distribution will occur in two different waves, the first starting this week and the second starting on Nov. 1."

Refund checks will be mailed to eligible policyholders. According to the settlement language, companies writing only six-month policies and companies writing both six-month and 12-month policies that expire prior to May 1, 2010, should send out refunds May 1 - July 31, 2010. All other refunds should be sent Nov. 1, 2010 to Jan. 31, 2011.

The checks are the result of a dispute between the N.C. Department of Insurance and the N.C. Rate Bureau (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, 2009. In cases where insurance companies charged policyholders more than the rates determined by the 2009 settlement, insurance companies are required by statute to refund the difference between the rates charged and the settled rates, with interest.

The 2009 auto settlement did away with the NCRB's implemented 9.4 percent 2008 rate increase and denied their 2009 request for an additional 1.4 percent rate increase and included an additional 0.5 percent 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.

"In addition to $50 million in refunds, the 2009 auto rate settlement saves North Carolina policyholders an estimated $545 million and is a good example of the on-going consumer protection efforts of this office," added Commissioner Goodwin.