California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi on Thursday said he will review and consider approving an average 22 percent homeowners’ insurance rate cut for policyholders of United Services Automobile Association.

The $55 million in proposed rate cuts by the state’s fifth-largest homeowners’ insurer would impact 182,000 households, according to the Insurance Department.

The USAA rate cuts would mean customers would see average savings of around $244 to $381 annually, with the decreases likely taking effect on October 1.

Garamendi applauded USAA’s rate filing and proposed cut in premiums and urged other insurers to follow suit.

A report commissioned by the California Insurance Department released in May charged that state homeowners’ insurance companies may be making “excess profits” because their payments on claims have dwindled in the past two years while the money they keep has “soared.”

Beginning in 2004, loss ratios — the amount an insurer spends to pay the claims of its customers, as expressed as a percentage of its premiums — for homeowners’ insurers dropped “markedly,” according to the study, which also addressed auto insurance.

According to Garamendi, the lowest loss ratio reported in 2004 for the top 20 companies was 24.2 percent, while another company’s loss ratio declined from 49.8 percent to 27.8 percent between 2004 and 2005. Garamendi claimed that these companies “are paying only 25 to 30 cents on claims for each dollar of premium they collect. The other 70 to 75 cents pays for administrative expenses and goes to the bottom line as profit,” the commissioner said.

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