North Carolina's automobile insurance rates will grow on average by 4.5% annually both later this year and next as part of a settlement reached between insurance companies and state regulators.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey announced on Tuesday the agreement, which alleviates the need for a rate hearing later this year before a potentially extended legal fight.

The North Carolina Rate Bureau, which represents insurance companies, had requested an overall statewide increase of 28.4% for private passenger auto rates and a 4.7% increase for motorcycle liability.

The agreement signed by Causey's office last week provides for an average private passenger automobile rate increase of 4.5% on new and renewed policies on or after Dec. 1, with another average 4.5% increase taking effect on Dec. 1, 2024. Motorcycle liability increases of 2.3% will take effect on the same dates.

Barring additional agreement, no additional increases can take place prior to Oct. 1, 2025, according to the settlement.

In a news release, Causey said North Carolina's annual average private passenger rates have remained among the lowest in the nation. He said recent rate increases are connected to more accidents and fatalities, which can be attributed to excessive speeding and impaired and distracted driving.

The Rate Bureau must submit automobile rate filings with the department annually by Feb. 1.

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