We were glad to hear Oklahoma Insur­ance Comm­issioner John D. Doak calling for a hearing on earthquake insurance rates.

Doak said the public hearing is a move to protect consumers.

 “We’ve seen some rate increase filings up to 100 percent come through the office, and we want to make sure we have a reasonably competitive market,” Doak said in announcing the hearing. “There needs to be a valid financial basis for any rate increase and healthy competition that benefits consumers.”

We’ve always advocated that the more information is made available to the public, the better it is.

The hearing will determine if there is a reasonable degree of competition in the market, according to a news release from Doak’s office. Recent filings have not substantiated a need for increased rates, according to the release.

Doak said he has concerns about competitiveness because 70 percent of earthquake insurance policies in the state are sold by just a few companies, and multi-line discounts make it difficult for a consumer to switch carriers to get a lower price or lower deductible. During the hearing, Doak will consider the number of insurers writing coverage, market share information, economic barriers preventing new carriers, market concentration, whether long-term profitability for insurers is reasonable and the relationship between insurers’ costs and revenue.

The hearing will be 8-10 a.m. May 24 at Oklahoma Insurance Department, 3625 N.W. 56th St., Suite 100, Oklahoma City. Anyone wishing to speak must notify the department no later than May 17 by emailing General Counsel Gordon Amini at Gordon.Amini@oid.ok.gov

Comments will be limited to issues of competition and pricing in the earthquake insurance market, and will not be a forum to discuss complaints about claim denials or manmade causes of earthquakes.

While it seems the frequency of earthquakes is slowing — as of Thursday there had been 269 magnitude 3.0 or greater earthquakes recorded in Oklahoma this year, compared to 282 during the same period last year — Oklahoma’s seismicity remains a hot topic.

Doak has a responsibility to look out for consumers and the insurance companies.

Having this hearing is a good way for him to cover all parts of his job, and it’s a good way to provide everyone with needed information.

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