As North Carolina’s elected Insurance Commissioner, I feel it’s necessary for me to respond to a May 28 opinion piece written by Appalachian State University Professor David Marlett.
Marlett’s arguments echo those of FAIR NC, a group of insurers including State Farm, Allstate, Geico, Erie and others that is pushing for drastic changes to North Carolina’s car insurance system. FAIR NC and Marlett both falsely claim a lack of car insurance discounts in North Carolina, and FAIR NC is promoting a misleading legislative proposal called the Good Driver Discount Bill.
The Good Driver Discount Bill is not what it purports to be, and Marlett, in addition to being an academic, is affiliated with organizations that are far from neutral on this subject.
In no way does North Carolina law prevent car insurance companies from offering discounts. In fact, almost 200 auto insurance companies offer more than 2,000 different kinds of discounts to North Carolina drivers. A printed list of the discounts is 48 pages long. There are discounts for good drivers, safe drivers, mature drivers, premier drivers, exceptional drivers, good students, members of the military and many more – the very kinds of discounts Marlett and FAIR NC deny are available here.
They know better. Or at least they should. But the proposed changes have nothing to do with insurance companies yearning to write more discounts.
Under our current system, North Carolina drivers enjoy the sixth-lowest average auto insurance rates in the country and the lowest in the South. The reality is that, behind their shifty smokescreen, State Farm and FAIR NC are pushing hard for changes that would let insurers charge drivers much more, including students, members of the military and people with no traffic violations on their record.
Car insurance companies do not need a change in law to charge drivers less. They only need a change in law to charge more than the cap on rates set by the insurance commissioner.
Marlett is not just a professor discussing car insurance quotes with his students. He’s doing work for the American Consumer Institute, a Washington advocate for the kind of harmful changes that would come about with the Good Driver Discount Bill. And R Street, a conservative think tank with close ties to State Farm, is handling Marlett’s publicity on this controversial issue.
North Carolina drivers deserve the truth. Frankly, FAIR NC should have no credibility with legislators, the public or the press. Drivers should oppose the so-called Good Driver Discount Bill, Professor Marlett should study it and the General Assembly should reject it.