Farmers filed for a 9.9 percent rate hike in June and implemented it immediately. The rate change covered nearly 300,000 policyholders with a “Texas Family Home Policy.” The Office of Public Insurance Counsel, which represents consumers before the state insurance department, said the hike was excessive and argued the company had failed to provide enough data to support the hike. In September, the insurance department contested the rates as well. “We continually evaluate our rates, and we have worked with TDI and OPIC to reach this agreement,” Davies said. “We are definitely committed to the Texas marketplace and we consented to reducing the rate.” Farmers agreed to reduce rates without admitting to any violations of state insurance code, according to the agreement. “This is good news for Farmers's policyholders,” said Jerry Hagins, a spokesman for the insurance department. “It's an example of rate regulation at work.” The lack of refunds for consumers, however, highlights flaws in the state's oversight of insurance, said Alex Winslow, head of Austin-based consumer group Texas Watch. “Instead of allowing the insurance companies to raise rates willy-nilly, they need to go to the Department of Insurance and get approval first so Texas homeowners aren't stuck paying overcharges needlessly,” Winslow said. Under the state's “file and use” system, companies can implement rates as soon as they notify state regulators about them. If the Texas Department of Insurance deems the rates unreasonable, excessive or unfair, it can order the company to pay refunds as well as interest to policyholders. Companies can then contest such orders in court.