Doak targets earthquake insurance

Commissioner John D. Doak informed insurance companies that sell earthquake policies in Oklahoma that the earthquake insurance market is noncompetitive. The order will change the way insurers file their rates with the Oklahoma Insurance Department (OID).

“There needs to be a valid basis for any rate increase,” Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak said. “My job is to protect Oklahomans, and this change will ensure earthquake coverage remains available and affordable.”

A public hearing was held last month to discuss the rise in earthquake insurance rates and the availability of suitable earthquake insurance coverage for Oklahoma consumers. During the hearing, data was released on the competitiveness of the earthquake insurance market. Doak found that a reasonable degree of competition does not exist in the market and that consumers have a limited ability to shop for a competitive price.

Because of the findings, Doak issued the order that requires property and casualty insurers to file their earthquake insurance rates before using them.

Prior to the order, insurance companies followed the “use and file” system that is required in a competitive market. Under the “use and file” system, an insurer can use any rate so long as it filed the rate with the Department within 30 days after implementation. Since Doak found the earthquake insurance market “noncompetitive,” the rating laws revert to a “file and use” system. In this type of system, rate increases must be submitted to the OID before they can be used. Doak has the option to challenge any rate change he finds to be inappropriate.

“This change will ultimately protect Oklahomans and help our state’s earthquake insurance market to become competitive,” said Doak. “A competitive market is healthy for the growth and sustainability of Oklahoma insurance needs.”

The order takes effect immediately. It will not affect existing policies until their renewal.