By GOV. JOE MANCHIN
CHARLESTON -- On April 29, 2005, I was pleased to sign into law civil justice and insurance reform legislation that provided our residents with some needed financial relief.
At that time, the major insurance companies doing business in West Virginia made a commitment that the passage of comprehensive civil justice and insurance reforms would put millions of dollars back into the pockets of our taxpayers.
Sixteen months later, not only are insurance companies fulfilling and exceeding their commitments to lower rates, but they are showing a renewed interest in making investments in a resurging West Virginia insurance market.
Since this legislation took effect, I am pleased to report that the insurance industry has returned more than $70 million back to ratepayers through premium rate reductions – exceeding its original commitment by more than $20 million.
Earlier this month, State Farm Insurance reaffirmed its commitment to the state's insurance consumers in announcing its acquisition of new office space in Kanawha County that will be capable of handling the company's possible expansion in the future.
The announcement came on the heels of another announcement by State Farm that it would make a five percent rate reduction in rates for its West Virginia homeowners' policyholders – a further sign that that comprehensive civil justice and insurance reforms are generating significant savings for West Virginia consumers.
The new lower homeowners' 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.
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.
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.
I also thank West Virginia's insurance industry members for coming to the table and working with our administration and the Legislature to find a solution to our rising insurance costs.
Since my campaign for governor, I have said that we must make insurance more available and affordable for West Virginia consumers and these companies responded.
As the results clearly indicate, West Virginia's consumers and economy are improving as a result of these efforts.