North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin wants state lawmakers to tighten up regulations over commercial vehicle insurance, saying some out-of-state trucking companies are claiming in-state residency to obtain lower insurance rates.
North Carolina boasts some of the lowest vehicle insurance rates in the country, but policies are available only to residents and businesses in the state.
Goodwin says the same thing is happening in the $670 million-a-year commercial vehicle insurance market, and he wants the law changed again.
"They have accidents in other states and the like. It impacts insurance rates for the legitimate businesses that are here, and it's becoming a growing problem," he said. "It's wrong, and we need to tackle it."
In recent years, the North Carolina Reinsurance Facility, which offers last-ditch coverage to high-risk companies, raised its commercial rates because of significant claim losses.
WRAL Investigates confirmed North Carolina coverage for Senn Freight Lines in Newberry, S.C. A company spokesman said the trucker has no North Carolina operations, although an internal insurance memo indicates Senn claims one truck registered and one driver licensed in the state.
According the Secretary of State's Office, Fast Transport Inc. is a North Carolina registered corporation, but the address listed is in a remote residential neighborhood in Wake Forest. There's no sign for Fast Transport nor trucks at the address, and no one was home when WRAL Investigates knocked on the door.
A Fast Transport spokesman said on the phone that the Wake Forest house is the trucker's accounting headquarters. According to this insurance quote, the company claims dozens of trucks in Florida, Georgia and Texas but only one in North Carolina.
Goodwin won't comment on specific cases, but he said only North Carolina companies should be able to take advantage of the state's lower insurance rates.
"We want to protect and help the legitimate companies that are doing business here from being taken advantage of by businesses that are basically lying, that are misleading the state and misleading insurance companies as to their presence in this state," he said.
Goodwin said his office is drafting legislation to present to the General Assembly when lawmakers reconvene in April that would better differentiate between legitimate North Carolina companies and posers exploiting the law to get cheaper rates.