Mass. Court Upholds Bowler’s 2004 Auto Rates

November 16, 2004

Massachusetts Insurance Commisioner Julianne Bowler’s decision setting private passenger auto insurance rates for 2004 has been upheld by the state Supreme Judicial Court.

A minor portion dealing with premiums for optional bodily injury coverage was remanded, however, for possible further consideration by the Division of Insurance although no change is required.

Attorney General Tom Reilly had challenged the rate decision, claiming that Bowler erred in her selection of underwriting profit methodology, in setting premiums for increased bodily injury limits, and in denying discovery into independent agency expenses.

The court concluded that Bowler’s choice of an underwriting profits model that uses insurers’ internal rates of return (IRR) “is adequately explained and reasonably supported by evidence.”

It further found that the Attorney General’s motion to compel discovery of agency expenses is moot.

Regarding bodily injury coverage rates, the decision held that the commissioner’s rejection of the Attorney General’s evidence that premiums charged policyholders with increased bodily injury limits are excessive lacked a reasoned basis.

Finally, it remand the portion of the 2004 decision that establishes premium charges for optional bodily injury coverage to the commissioner for reconsideration, further findings, and, if necessary, further proceedings.

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