GEICO seeks to raise auto rates in Md. Average increase would be 3.1 percent


One of the state's largest auto insurers, the Government Employees Insurance Co., and a subsidiary, GEICO General Insurance Co., are asking the state to approve rate increases averaging 3.1 percent statewide.

The proposed increases are justified based on policyholders' claims and on projections for the future, company executives said at a public hearing before the Insurance Administration yesterday.

The proposed increases, which range from 2.7 percent for comprehensive coverage to 14.7 percent for personal injury protection, come at a time when a number of commercial insurers, and the state agency that insures drivers rejected by commercial companies, have sought permission to reduce their rates.

GEICO Corp., based in Chevy Chase, is the third-largest automobile insurance company in Maryland, with a 10 percent market share. The two GEICO companies seeking the increases insure 210,000 Maryland drivers.

If the rate proposal is approved as expected, drivers in Baltimore City would see increases of 7 percent, 2.9 percent or 3.4 percent, depending on where they live. The state Insurance Administration has 30 days to issue a decision.

The city accounts for about 10 percent of the premiums written in Maryland, said Charles Klein, a GEICO actuary and assistant vice president for pricing. He said the increases were necessary to cover increased expenses and claims.

GEICO wrote $229 million in premiums in Maryland in 1992. Nationwide, it had premiums of $1.9 billion.

Even as GEICO is seeking rate increases, other big insurers have dropped their rates recently.

The Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund is seeking an average rate decrease of 4.3 percent, the fourth time the agency has sought to drop its rates. It serves 145,000 drivers who have been rejected by commercial insurers, some for reasons other than their driving records.

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