CHARLESTON -- Gov. Joe Manchin applauded State Farm Insurance for publicly reaffirming its commitment to the West Virginia insurance market and for discussing the potential that exists for the company's future expansion in the state's resurging insurance market.

The company made this renewed commitment during the announcement of its acquisition of new office space in Kanawha County that will be capable of handling the company's possible expansion in the future.

Just last week, State Farm became the latest major insurance company to announce another reduction in rates for its West Virginia policyholders. Manchin's office called that a sign that comprehensive insurance reforms championed by the governor and approved by the Legislature in 2005 are generating significant savings for West Virginia consumers.

"State Farm's recent announcements illustrate its renewed confidence in West Virginia's insurance market, and we appreciate the leaders in the industry reaffirming their commitment to our state," Manchin said. "I applaud State Farm, the state's largest property and casualty insurer, and its competitors in the insurance industry for fulfilling their promises that meaningful insurance reform would result in a more affordable and available insurance market for West Virginia consumers."

Last week, the West Virginia Insurance Commission approved a 5 percent rate decrease for State Farm's homeowners' insurance customers in West Virginia. The new lower rates, which take effect Dec. 1, mark State Farm's first average statewide homeowners' rate reduction in more than a decade. The announcement followed State Farm's 10 percent rate reduction last year on its automobile insurance policies and 4.8 percent rate reduction earlier this year on commercial multi-peril policies in West Virginia.

Manchin's office said that since the approval of insurance reforms during the 2005 regular legislative session, rate reductions by major insurance companies have put more than $70 million back into the pockets of West Virginia's insurance consumers.

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