Citing reports of rate hikes and canceled policies following last winter’s storms, Massachusetts Senate leaders continue to mull changes in homeowners’ insurance regulation geared towards more transparency.

“From our perspective, the problem is a lack of notice and lack of justification and explanation that makes sense to the consumers with regard to the size of the increases, and now the actual loss of coverage as a result of filing and being paid for claims,” Senate President Stanley Rosenberg told reporters last week. The Senate Post Audit and Oversight Committee held a lengthy hearing on the issue on Sept. 22 where state insurance regulators said they were aware of no public hearings on rate increase filings from insurers since 1991 and said the Division of Insurance also does not notify anyone except its own staff of details of rate increase filings submitted by insurance carriers. The division this year approved an 8.9 percent rate hike for Mapfre USA Corp., 9.1 percent for Safety Insurance and 7.7 percent for Bunker Hill Insurance. Committee chair Sen. Michael Barrett “is now considering all of that testimony and may be proposing some possible changes in the process by which rates are set,” Rosenberg said. Rosenberg said the “obvious” concern is “no public hearing, no public discourse and all of a sudden there were rather substantial increases. … And now we’re hearing reports that people, after they get their payments for damages that have been paid for by insurance, their policies are being canceled, so there’s something wrong in the system here.”

In written testimony, the Massachusetts Insurance Federation called the market here “healthy and competitive” – with 76 companies writing $2 billion in voluntary market premiums – and said underwriters face the loss of customers if their rates are out of step. The federation credited the division for “focused and careful oversight.”

Senators Weigh Changes To Homeowners’ Insurance Rate Process

by State House News Service time to read: 1 min