Occidental Agrees to Alter Rating System for Massachusetts Drivers

April 10, 2009

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said that Occidental Fire and Casualty Insurance Co. of North Carolina has agreed to make significant changes to the way it rates Bay State drivers.

Occidental, which announced plans earlier this year to enter Massachusetts personal auto insurance market, made the changes after Coakley asked the Division of Insurance to hold a hearing on the insurer’s initial rate filing.

That hearing was scheduled to begin at the end of April.

Coakley had several complaints over Occidental’s rate filing in February, which included a 35 percent surcharge for any driver that held a foreign drivers license or license from Puerto Rico, as well as what Coakley said were significantly high premiums compared with other insurers. Occidental began writing Massachusetts policies on April 1 and intends to sell its policies in those areas where other insurers are declining business, such as inner city areas.

Coakley said was “pleased with the action that Occidental has taken,” adding that “because Occidental is providing coverage in areas where insurance choices may be limited, it is important that consumers in those areas are protected from unduly excessive rates.”

Occidental has agreed to lower its base rates by approximately 12 percent for property damage coverages, 30 percent for Personal Injury Protection coverages and by 25 percent for Comprehensive coverages. The company also eliminated the 35 percent surcharge in the new filing.

Occidental has also agreed to accept certain electronic records relating to foreign drivers, which had been another issue broached by Coakley’s office.

The agreements reached between Coakley and Occidental are subject to the approval of Insurance Commissioner Nonnie Burnes.
Source: Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General

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