Insurance companies request 14 percent rise in auto premiums

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Insurance companies are seeking approval for their plans to raise auto insurance costs for North Carolina motorists by an average of nearly 14 percent this year.

The state Insurance Department said Friday it received the request from the North Carolina Rate Bureau, which represents insurance companies. The state Insurance Department regulates rate increases.

The department says the last time auto insurance premiums increased was in 2001 and 2002, but they were wiped out by a 2003 decrease.

State officials expect to spend several months studying the request to see if it's justified. That could be followed by negotiations over the appropriate rate, hearings to examine the request and potentially a battle in the courts.