AUSTIN (Dallas Morning News) – After originally proposing a statewide rate increase of 10 percent for Texas homeowners, Farmers Insurance has agreed to cut the rate hike by more than half.

 State Insurance Commissioner Mike Geeslin, who called the initial rate plan “excessive and unfairly discriminatory,” signed a consent order Monday agreeing to a 4.5 percent increase for the 300,000 customers of Farmers’ largest home insurance subsidiary.

Farmers, the state’s third-largest home insurer, said the rates were necessary because of increased property losses and a jump in the cost of reinsurance, which insurers buy to help pay claims after a catastrophic event.

 The order does not require the company to lower its rates until March 16, and the new rates will stay in effect until at least March 16, 2011.