State insurance regulators threatened yesterday to make public the names of insurance companies and their executives who do not abide by the administration's anti-inflation guidelines.
At the same time the regulators backed down in the face of industry opposition in their attempt to eliminate sex and marital status as criteria in setting auto insurance rates.
Meeting in Las Vegas, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners voted to ask carriers to state in writing whether they intend to obey the guidelines. Those responding positiyely would be monitored and, if found not in compliance, exposed.
The NAIC also requested companies to accept the administration's anticipated lower inflation rate when setting their own rates.
The NAIC had been expected to approve the elimination of sex and marital status after a task force approved it. Instead, the issue was shelved temporarily. These criteria, in use for a quarter century, have the effect of imposing substantially higher premiums on young, unmarried males.
Three states -- Hawaii, Massachusetts and North Carolina -- already have outlawed the use of age, sex and marital status criteria as discriminatory, but the industry remains on the whole adamantly opposed to dropping them.
A preliminary vote Thursday of 65 percent in favor of elimination was reversed yesterday after a night of intense industry lobbying. NAIC's incoming president, Hosea P. Hudson, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Insurance, said the commissioners changed their minds because they were concerned elimination would create serious disruption in the industry.
Companies would be disinclined to accept youths at lower rates, they argued, with the result that more would be forced to buy insurance from state pools at higher rates.
State insurance commissioners often have been accused of being pawns of the industry. Hudson said yesterday that he had pledged to pursue the issue of eliminating sex and marital status criteria and was optimistic that the companies would come up with alternative criteria by June 1979, the deadline set by NAIC.
In a recent issue of the Journal of American Insurance, reclassifying risks is called a "hot issue for 1979" due to public concern over rising auto premiums. While recognizing that concern, the industry contends that if everyone paid the same insurance rate, adult costs would rise 8 to 27 percent, while youth costs would drop 15 to 59 percent. Unmarried males under 25 cause insurance losses up to three times larger than older drivers, according to the Journal.
Massachusetts has revised its classifications into four basic divisions ranging from inexperienced with no driver training to experienced, using the car for nonbusiness purposes. Several companies have experimented with "make and model" ratings, which link premiums to actual repair and theft records. But the industry as a whole has not yet presented NAIC with alternative criteria, Hudson said.