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Just a Little Relief?

July 15, 2008 - Joselyn King
Sometimes you just have to appreciate the positives -- no matter how small -- especially during these economic times. I just hope I'm not getting too excited.

You see, in recent months, I have to believe my auto-related costs -- money paid out for car payment, insurance and gasoline -- are exceeding my household costs.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I opened my most recent car insurance bill to find that it was going to be about $5 less per month for the next six months.

O.k., it's only $5, but every little bit helps.

My question is whether the people of the state overall are seeing a decrease in their auto insurance costs. Or if they are, whether it is very significant.

It was in 2005 that Gov. Joe Manchin pushed through legislation eliminating third-party lawsuits in the state. These lawsuits -- often referred to as "bad faith" law suits -- allowed the victim in an accident to not only sue the person who hit them, but to also bring suit against that person's insurance company if that insurer failed to live up to its perceived obligations.

It was touted that eliminating the provision would have the ultimate effect of lowering the very high car insurance rates paid by West Virginians by opening up the insurance industry to more providers. Many major insurers had stopped writing new policies in the state because of losses from "bad faith" law suits.

In 2004, I called the toll-free number for one of these major insurers -- only to have the automated pick-up hang up on me when it detected I was calling from a West Virginia phone number. "Sorry, we are not presently writing policies in the state," the computer voice said.

But last year I was able to switch polices to another major insurers -- who only a month before had announced they would again be writing new auto policies in West Virginia.

As for that first insurer. . . .They've recently sent me advertising asking me to switch polices to them.

Are other people in West Virginia finding additional insurance options? Lower car insurance rates?


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