Appeal from the Order of the Insurance Commissioner in the case of In the Matter of: The Order and Adjudication of April 22, 1975, of William J. Sheppard, Insurance Commissioner and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Approving the Argonaut Insurance Company Physicians and Surgeons Professional Liability Insurance Rate Filing of February 18, 1975, No. R75-7-8.
William J. Taylor, with him Joseph A. Torregrossa, James Charles Dobbs, and, of counsel Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, for appellants.
Andrew F. Giffin, Assistant Attorney General, with him Linda S. Lichtman, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Mencer.
[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 271]
Augusto S. Adrid, the named appellant, is one of one hundred physicians, all of whom carry medical malpractice insurance with Argonaut Insurance Company (Argonaut).
[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 272]
On July 23, 1975, appellants filed a complaint seeking a hearing to contest the action of the Commissioner of Insurance (Commissioner) in approving a rate filing which granted, effective immediately, on April 22, 1975, a 206.9-percent rate increase to Argonaut. The complaint was filed under Section 17(a) of The Casualty and Surety Rate Regulatory Act*fn1 (Act). By an undated order issued on or about August 1, 1975, the Commissioner dismissed the complaint brought under Section 17(a) but granted appellants leave to file an amended application for a hearing under Section 5(b) of the Act, 40 P.S. § 1185(b). It is this action which appellants contest before our Court.*fn2
The sole question presented for our review is whether the Commissioner correctly found Section 5(b) to be the exclusive method for securing an administrative hearing to challenge a rate filing which is in effect at the time of the challenge. Appellants contend that both Section 17(a) and Section 5(b) are available to persons seeking to challenge a rate filing in effect. The question as framed by the parties is one of first impression.
Section 17(a), on which appellants rely, reads as follows:
"(a) Any insurer, rating organization or person aggrieved by any action of the Commissioner, except disapproval of a filing or a part thereof as provided for in section five hereof, or by any rule or regulation
[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 273]
adopted and promulgated by the Commissioner, shall have the right to file a complaint with the Commissioner and to have a hearing thereon before the Commissioner. Pending such hearing and the decision thereon the Commissioner may suspend or ...