In a development that reportedly illustrates the need to reform Massachusetts’ antiquated automobile insurance system, a superior court judge on Monday ruled that Insurance Commissioner Julie Bowler lacked the statutory authority to order the state’s private passenger automobile residual market, Commonwealth Automobile Reinsurers (CAR), to convert to an assigned risk plan.
“The ruling is a disappointment, but we knew going in that reforming automobile insurance in Massachusetts would be difficult,” said Frank O’Brien, vice president, regional manager and counsel for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).
The court’s decision relates to an order issued by Commissioner Bowler last December setting forth changes in the way CAR handles the residual market, so that the plan’s operation would conform to statute by fairly distributing the risks of the plan amongst the state’s dwindling number of automobile insurers.
“The commissioner’s proposed plan would have provided for a fairer and more equitable distribution of the residual market costs and burden,” said O’Brien. “A similar structure has long been in place in other states and works well.”
“Massachusetts is widely regarded as having one of the most restrictive and least competitive private passenger automobile insurance markets in the country,” added O’Brien. “Today’s ruling is emblematic of that fact and only increases our resolve to push for positive and meaningful auto insurance reform.”
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