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More insurance filings go online

State insurance regulators are once again making rate and form filings publicly available online -- this time for property and casualty insurance -- so consumers and other members of the public can review the data and justifications used to support rate hikes or product changes.

As it did last fall with health insurance, the state Department of Financial Services is making available for download documents submitted to the state to support rate increases, introduce new products or change existing offerings. The service is available through the department's website. A website link is available at the Strictly Business blog at www.buffalonews.com/business.

Every year, the department receives and processes nearly 3,000 requests by insurers. In the past, the public could obtain copies of most of the documents under the state's Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), but that often took 10 days or more. Now, the process will be electronic, and consumers can download any filings they want to review directly from the state's website.

"Making these filings available electronically will mean people will not have to wait 10 days or more for a Freedom of Information request to be manually processed and mailed, but can simply download any filings they want to review," said Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of financial services.

"This will increase transparency, promote greater efficiency and help drive down the department's cost of doing business. Easier access to this information may also encourage greater innovation in the insurance industry."

email: jepstein@buffnews.com