Annotate this Case

1938 OK 468
84 P.2d 619
184 Okla. 234
Case Number: 27893
Decided: 09/27/1938
Supreme Court of Oklahoma

Utilities Ins. Co. of Missouri
State Ins. Board of Okl.

Syllabus by the Court.

¶0 1. INSURANCE--Purpose of State Rating Law.
The purpose of the Oklahoma rating law (Secs. 10533 to 10553, O.S.1931, inc., 36 Okl.St.Ann. §§ 131 to 151 inc.) is to provide for the supervision and regulation of fire, tornado and plate glass insurance rates, and rates of legal liability insurance companies, and the granting and revoking of agents' license, so as to protect the insuring public from discrimination against them by any company, but at the same time preserve open competition among the companies.
2. SAME--AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE--General Basis Schedule Setting Forth Rates to Be Charged by Company--Deviation From Manual Rates Approved by State Insurane Board.
Every insurance company engaged in this state in the business of writing contracts of insurance covering bodily injury and property damage arising from the operation of automobiles, has the right to file with the State Insurance Board its own general basis schedule setting forth the rates it proposes to charge, which rate schedule may be a deviation from the manual rates approved by the board for all such companies, subject, however, to the approval of the State Insurance Board as to the reasonableness of such proposed rate, and when such rate is once established, such company shall not charge a different rate.
3. SAME--Rate Orders of State Insurance Board not Vacated by Supreme Court When Supported by Evidence and Law.
In an original action in this court where it is sought to review and vacate a rate order of the State Insurance Board, such order will not be vacated when it is reasonably supported by competent evidence, and, when neither the conduct of the hearing or trial, nor the order made, appear to be contrary to law.
4. SAME--Disposition of Cause Where Rate Order Is Contraty to Law and Evidence Is Insufficient to Determine Reasonableness of Rate.
Record examined, and held, that where the order of the State Insurance Board is contrary to law, but no finding on the evidence is made, and evidence is insufficient to determine reasonableness of rate, order will be vacated for further proceedings.

Appeal from a Final Order of State Insurance Board.

Action by the Utilities Insurance Company of Missouri against the State Insurance Board of the State of Oklahoma, Jess G. Read and others, constituting the State Insurance Board of the State of Oklahoma, to review a final order of the State Insurance Board denying petitioner the right to deviate from rate schedule approved and fixed by the State Insurance Board for the writing of contracts of insurance for bodily injury and property damage incurred in the operation of automobiles.

Order vacated for further proceedings.

Moss & Powell, of Oklahoma City, for petitioner.
Mac Q. Williamson, Atty. Gen., Houston W. Reeves, Asst. Atty. Gen., and John Barry and Rittenhouse, Webster & Rittenhouse, all of Oklahoma City, for respondents.

HURST, Justice.

¶1 This is an action to review a final order of the State Insurance Board entered on April 12, 1937, which denied petitioner the right to deviate from the rate schedule approved and fixed by the Board on October 1, 1936, for the writing of contracts of insurance for bodily injury and property damage incurred in the operation of automobiles.

¶2 It appears that the rate schedule approved by the board as applicable to all companies writing such insurance was prescribed by what is referred to as the "conference group" of insurance companies using rates fixed by the National Bureau of Casualty and Surety Underwriters. Petitioner is a "non-conference company" and desires to use its own rate schedule based upon its own underwriting experience, which rate schedule is about 20% lower than the schedule approved by the board.

¶3 1. It is contended by respondent that this court has no jurisdiction to entertain this proceeding for review, because the petitioner did not appeal within thirty days from the order of October 1, 1936. Sec. 10547, O.S.1931, 36 Okl.St.Ann. § 145, provides that the State Insurance Board shall not make any regulation or order without giving the insurance companies concerned at least ten days' notice and opportunity to appear and be heard in respect to the same; and if any insurance company shall be dissatisfied it "shall have the right within thirty days after the making of said regulation or order to have same reviewed in an original action before the Supreme Court of this State, by having a certified copy of said order and of said proceedings before said board filed with the clerk of said court. * * *" The order of October 1, 1936, does not appear in the record, and there is nothing to show whether notice was given, or whether a hearing was had. The statute, of necessity, contemplates a review of an order made upon due notice and after full hearing in order that there may be something here for review. We do not know the nature of the order of October 1, 1936, other than that it specified a certain rate schedule, and we think that under the record, the order now sought to be reviewed is the one contemplated by the statute. We therefore entertain jurisdiction.

¶4 2. Aside from that, the questions of law involved are identical to those determined in the American Druggists' Fire Insurance Co. v. State Insurance Board, Okl.Sup., 84 P.2d 614. Under the rules therein announced, petitioner has the right under the Oklahoma rating law to file its own rate schedule in deviation from the rate schedule approved for all companies of the same class, subject to the approval of the board.

¶5 3. The decisive question, therefore, is whether under the evidence the proposed rate is inadequate for the safety and soundness of the company. The rule governing our review of the order herein involved is that the finding of the board is binding upon us unless it appears to be contrary to the law or the evidence. Associated Industries v. State Insurance Board, 1935, 173 Okl. 41, 46 P.2d 361. We think that the evidence before us is so insufficient that we could not say that the order of the board denying the right to charge the proposed rate is contrary to the evidence, had the order been based on the evidence. Nowhere in the record does there appear a financial statement of the company, and although there is evidence regarding the premium income and the loss ratio, there is no evidence as to operating overhead, expense load and such facts as are necessary to be considered in determining the adequacy of a rate schedule. Neither does the record disclose the net profit made by the company prior to the order of October 1, 1936, nor does it show what dividends, if any, were paid to stockholders. Moreover, the petitioner has been operating as a stock company in this state only since 1932, and although it operates in a total of eleven states, we think the evidence introduced pertaining to its underwriting experience may well appear to be inadequate.

¶6 However, in view of the fact that the record discloses that the order denying the right to deviate from the approved rate schedule was made exclusively under the view of the law that no such deviation is authorized, we are constrained to say that no finding on this issue can be inferred.

¶7 It is therefore ordered that the order of April 12, 1937, be vacated for further proceedings not inconsistent with the views herein expressed.