A proposed change in the law would dramatically alter the way North Carolina regulates car insurance rates.
Right now, North Carolina is the only state in the nation with a rate bureau that sets a ceiling on insurance rates. However, a set of proposed bills would allow auto insurers to choose their own rates, as long as the annual increase is less than 12 percent.
Supporters of the change said consumers would benefit, since it would create a more competitive free-market system, leading to lower rates.
But critics, AAA, believe that's not likely.
"The fact is there are 160 insurance companies already operating in North Carolina, so the competition is already there. It's working for us; we have very low insurance rates," AAA Carolinas spokeswoman Angela Vogel said.
AAA also said the current system gives drivers the lowest car-insurance rates in the South, and the seventh-lowest in the country. It said when South Carolina made a similar change several years ago, premiums jumped 25 percent.
The bills would also make it easier for North Carolina to have the discount programs available in other states, and end what proponents argue is a “hidden tax” to subsidize the cost of risky drivers. But the insurance department said that only amounts to about $15 for the average auto policy.
Eyewitness News reached out to the bills' sponsors, but did not hear back Monday. Right now, the bills are still in committee.