Lawmakers blast FAIR plan insurance hikes

State legislators representing Martha’s Vineyard called Wednesday for the Mass FAIR Plan to justify a proposed property insurance rate hike of 6.7 percent.

Mass FAIR (Fair Access to Insurance Requirements) Plan is a state program for property owners who cannot get coverage from private insurance companies. It is the insurer of last resort for many Island property owners. More than a third of FAIR plan policies insure property owners in Dukes, Nantucket, and Barnstable counties.

“This is a higher increase than in many other areas, even though our reported losses are among the lowest in the state,” state Senator Dan Wolf said in a statement. “My family has lived in the same home in Harwich for more than 25 years, and we’ve never had a big claim. Amazingly enough, what we were paying per year for insurance then, we pay per month now. Clearly, we need to reform this system and find rate relief for consumers.”

Mr. Wolf, along with representative Timothy Madden and several legislators who represent Cape Cod districts, have filed legislation they say will make the rate-setting process more transparent, and force Mass FAIR plan administrators to base rates on actual losses and risk.

“There should be no rate increases until such time as the legislation pending in Boston has passed,” Representative Madden said.

The rate hike must be reviewed and approved by the state Division of Insurance, after public hearings. Legislators, homeowners, the state attorney general, and insurance company executives are expected to testify.