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End of the Road

Massachusetts' commissioner and AG play "Who's the Regulator?" over Commerce Insurance's insurance rates.
In Massachusetts, regulatory bickering continued last week over private passenger automobile insurance rates – primarily those filed by Commerce, the state’s largest personal auto insurer. It’s become clear that the Division of Insurance has relatively little patience left for the foot-dragging that has become characteristic of the Office of Attorney General Martha Coakley. During one exchange at a recent hearing on Commerce’s rates, and everything the AG found odious about the new rate approval process, Commissioner of Insurance Nonnie Burnes tartly noted, “I know in general you are opposed to all of these rates. Can you focus on Commerce?”

The AG’s office has indeed focused on Commerce, seeming to want to reject the company’s request and make its own recommendations. And though there are four other insurers being examined through a hearing process, Commerce is the one that has attracted the most attention. Should further fault be found with the filing, what rates would be available to 30% of the drivers in the state? The potential delay could put a significant company and hundreds of thousands of drivers at a disadvantage.

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