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The Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents (MAIA) has filed for an average agency commission on private passenger auto insurance of $150.84 per vehicle, a 32 percent increase from the current $114 average.MAIA filed its recommendation with the Division of Insurance as part of the process for setting 2005 rates. This recommendation is based on a new 2004 Agency Cost Study conducted for MAIA by its actuarial consultant Tillinghast.For 2004, agents had requested a $116.43 average commission using a study conducted in 2002 but Insurance Commissioner Julianne Bowler approved the $114 figure.In her 2003 rate decision, Bowler criticized the agency study for the low number of agencies participating, the lack of exposure data submitted by the agencies and the quality of some of the data submitted by MAIA members participating in the study.MAA sought to strengthen its presentation for 2005 rates with a new study. The agents say their 2004 cost study addresses and corrects for each issue the commissioner criticized regarding the 2002 cost study.First and most significantly, according to MAIA, the 2004 cost study contains full data sets (including expenses, commissions, premiums and other data) from 77 percent of the randomly selected agencies requested to participate in the cost study (129 of 168 agencies participated). The 2002 cost study had a participation rate of 45 percent.Secondly, the 2004 cost study utilizes actual exposure data as provided by CAR for all participating agencies, as opposed to estimated exposure data submitted by only some of the participating agencies in the 2002 cost study.Thirdly, MAIA said its latest cost study uses a full set of data from one year’s worth of expenses, rather than partial data for two years worth of expenses from only a portion of participating agencies in the 2002 cost study. This allows for more consistent data evaluations among the participating agencies.Finally, MAIA contends that the 2004 cost study provides a much sounder basis for wage allocation because of the use of actual 2003 wages. The 2002 cost study used allocated wages from the 1997 cost study.On August 13, 2004, the Automobile Insurers Bureau of Massachusetts (AIB) made its rate proposal for 2005. The proposal calls for a 5.8 percent rate increase .On August 31, the Division of Insurance will begin the public comment portion of the 2005 rate hearing.