New York Consumer Protection Law Said to Increase Auto Insurance Rates

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  • For a number of years now, the combined cost to consumers for insurance policies of all types has been on the mind of state and federal legislators. As such, many have passed laws that are designed to keep those expenses as low as possible. However, one such bill in New York State seems to have had the opposite effect. Consequently, insurance agents operating in the state might have to continually work with clients to ensure they’re satisfied with their coverage.

    A New York law passed in 2008 that was supposed to significantly reduce the cost of premiums seems to have made no difference when it comes to consumers’ coverage, according to a report from the New York Daily News. Since it was passed six years ago, premiums have actually gone up 6.2 percent, while the national average cost of coverage has gone up just 1 percent overall, and other states with large populations have mostly reduced rates. For instance, in the time New York’s policy prices have gone up, California’s dropped 5.5 percent.

    What’s behind the increase?
    The reason for this, critics say, is that the New York law allowed for auto insurers to be more flexible in changing rates without having to go through a state approval process, the report said. California, meanwhile, keeps tight controls on the ways in which these can be changed. New York is one of only four states in the U.S. with such a system in place, and the argument in favor of the plan at the time was that it would increase competition to keep rates low. That, however, seems not to have come to fruition.

    “The more pricing freedom companies got, the higher the rates went over time,” Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America, told the newspaper.

    On the other hand, insurers themselves say that the reason costs have gone up for drivers in New York is that the state has a no-fault insurance law, the report said. These can significantly increase costs for coverage providers.

    Of course, insurance agents likely know all too well that higher costs for consumers will often lead to discontentedness with coverage, and an increased likelihood to shop around. As such, the more they can do to show that the grass isn’t always going to be greener, whether it’s in terms of premiums or the quality of coverage, the more likely they might be to retain those clients.