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Consumer Group Has Standing to Sue Allstate

(CN) - A group that protects Maryland's insurance customers has standing to challenge Allstate's decision to stop writing policies for "catastrophe-prone" areas, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled.

Allstate Insurance Co. sought to cease writing new homeowners and mobile-home policies in certain "catastrophe-prone" areas.

Allstate informed the Insurance Commissioner of its decision, and the People's Insurance Counsel Division tried to intervene.

The trial court dismissed the division's request for judicial review, agreeing with Allstate that the division lacked standing to be a party to the proceeding.

Allstate argued that because the Maryland Legislature gave the division "the rights of counsel for a party to the proceeding," that it could not be a party to a commission proceeding.

Judge Battaglia reversed the decision, ruling that Allstate had ignored the fact that the division "may appear before any federal or State tribunal or agency, in a judicial or administrative action, to protect the interests of insurance consumers."

Battaglia remanded to the trial court, which can rule on the division's request for judicial review of the commissioner's approval of Allstate's action.

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