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North Carolina Regulator Calls 13.8% Auto Rate Hike Unwarranted

By Amy O'Connor | April 17, 2017

The North Carolina Rate Bureau’s request for an auto rate hike of 13.8 percent is not justified based on the data submitted, according to a statement from the North Carolina Department of Insurance.
The decision, made by Commissioner Mike Causey and NCDOI officials, came on March 24 after “thorough” review of NCRB’s 1,500-page filing submitted on Feb. 1. NCRB is an independent organization representing all auto insurance companies doing business in the state.
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Instead, NCDOI has released a notice of hearing for NCRB’s 2017 auto insurance request for a 13.8 percent average statewide increase in auto rates.
The hearing is the next step in the process where a hearing officer will listen to testimony from experts on both sides of the issue and decide what rate change, if any, is warranted.

The hearing has been scheduled to begin Sept. 11, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. at the NCDOI in Raleigh.

If NCRB wishes to appeal the decision rendered after the hearing, it can do so through the court system, and companies can raise rates while awaiting a decision from the courts. The difference in the ordered rate and the implemented rate must be held in escrow.

If NCRB loses its appeal, the escrowed money must be refunded to policyholders who paid too much.

Joanna Biliouris, chief operating officer for NCRB, said NCDOI’s decision was not surprising, but the rating organization believes the rates are justified.

“We are fully prepared to go to the hearing and present the case as best we can,” she said.

NCRB said in February that the rate increases were necessary because of a “dramatic increase in [auto] losses and the cost of those losses since 2014.”

“While the increase in losses has been a nationwide phenomenon, current data from the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles is particularly troubling,” NCRB said. “In 2015, the most recent year available, fatalities increased 8.1 percent from 2014, injuries increased 11.8 percent and reported crashes were up 11.1 percent.”

NCRB said the increase in losses is the result of a number of factors, but the most significant is the rise in the number of miles driven each year. In North Carolina, mileage driven in 2015 was up 13 percent from the average of the preceding five years. In addition, inflation in 2016 has increased vehicle repair costs by 2.4 percent and total medical care costs by 3.8 percent.

Two other factors more difficult to quantify, NCRB said, are impaired drivers and distracted drivers. The NCDMV estimates, for example, that in North Carolina, there were 7 percent more crashes in 2015 due to distracted driving and 13.2 percent more alcohol-related crashes.

Alzheimer’s Awareness: The Rising Toll

Imagine an entire city’s worth of people unsuccessfully battling an incurable and unforgiving disease. That is the realty of Alzheimer’s in this country, and we need to spread awareness of this deadly disease.

In the United States alone, an estimated 700,000 people – roughly equal to the population of Detroit – age 65 or older will die with Alzheimer’s in 2014, according to data from the Chicago Health and Aging Project.

While we can all hope that number will be lower, we know that the number of deaths attributed solely to Alzheimer’s will be much lower. That’s because sufferers often die from conditions the disease contributes heavily to, such as pneumonia. According to Medicare data, one-third of all seniors who die in a given year have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.

Rate American’s Acquire Alzheimer’s is Accelerating Every 67 seconds, someone develops this deadly and costly disease. The rate has increased, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. As the chart above illustrates, the last decade has not been particularly kind for sufferers of this disease.And that is why we write about it – not to frighten or depress, but to raise awareness.I’ll admit, when I was younger I thought that Alzheimer’s was just a disease that affected – but didn’t kill – people. I mistakenly believed that all it did was make people forgetful, and unable to perform certain tasks in more extreme cases.Having witnessed firsthand the care required for someone with relatively mild dementia, it opens your eyes to how it impacts a family. The symptoms only increase, as does the care required.The Price of Caregiving is Not Easy to CalculateIn my family, we were blessed that we had a strong support network that could help relieve some of the pressure on certain individuals. This is not the case for many.Last year, 75 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers reported being employed full- or part-time, which meant they had to make major changes to their schedule. Fifty-four percent said they had to go in late, leave early or take time off, and 15 percent had to take a leave of absence.Do the math. If most sufferers of this disease are 65 or older, their family caregivers – most likely the next generation and more often women – are working less and thus making less money amid their prime earning years.And as I can attest, the time spent caregiving comes with costs you can’t quantify – physical, mental, time away from spouses, kids, friends and activities.