AUSTIN - State Farm Insurance took action on two legal fronts Friday to overturn orders by Texas' insurance commissioner that blocked a hefty increase in homeowner rates - including a 23 percent hike in Dallas County - and put the company's rates under direct state supervision.

The twin filings by the state's largest property insurer escalated its long-running legal fight with the state over the company's rates, which state regulators contend are unfair and excessive.

"Without the ability to charge adequate rates, we cannot run our business for any length of time," said Mike Wey, senior vice president of State Farm in Texas. "If the Texas Department of Insurance forces us to operate with inadequate rates, it will not benefit our customers or ultimately the citizens of Texas."

Mr. Wey said the Texas home insurance market is "showing signs of stress" and could be headed to a situation like Florida's, in which the state-run insurer of last resort is now the largest seller of homeowners policies. Many insurers are scaling back their business in the state, which has been battered by hurricanes the last several years.

"State Farm is once again attempting to bypass the regulatory authority of the Insurance Department," said Jim Hurley, a spokesman for the agency. "We will continue to fight for State Farm policyholders to assure that they are protected against excessive rate charges."

Last week, Insurance Commissioner Mike Geeslin flatly rejected State Farm's proposal to increase homeowner rates 23 percent in Dallas County and 11 percent statewide. A separate proposal for a 9 percent increase mainly affecting homeowners along the Gulf Coast also was turned down.

In addition, Mr. Geeslin slapped the insurer with an unprecedented order that places the company's rates under state supervision and bars State Farm from increasing premiums without prior state approval.

On Friday, State Farm attorneys filed a petition asking a state district judge in Travis County to issue an injunction blocking enforcement of the supervision order. A second filing, made to the State Office of Administrative Hearings, appealed the commissioner's summary disapproval of its two proposed rate increases.

State Farm, which insures about a million homeowners in Texas, had wanted to raise rates Aug. 1 for new policies and Oct. 1 for policy renewals.

The company has warned that if it is forced to operate with inadequate rates, it will have to review its business in Texas and "determine if we can maintain these customers."

State Farm filed for the rate increase May 31, citing higher costs for housing construction - including an average 21 percent increase in concrete products. State Farm sought hikes larger than the statewide average in Dallas and Tarrant counties, citing the area's pattern of damaging weather, particularly hailstorms.

State Farm has been accused by the Insurance Department in court case of overcharging its million customers in Texas by about 12 percent dating to fall 2003. Estimates of the potential refunds to policyholders have ranged to more than $350 million plus interest.

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