Insurers are asking for a major increase in homeowner’s insurance rates across most North Carolina counties.
The North Carolina Rate Bureau filed a notice with the N.C. Department of Insurance requesting an average increase of 18.7 percent, Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey announced late Monday. The new rates, if approved by the commissioner, would take effect July 1.
The increases vary by territory with coastal communities as usual seeing the highest increases. The highest increases would be in parts of Brunswick, Carteret, New Hanover and Pender counties, where the requested increase is 80.5 percent for homes along the coast.
Homeowners in Wake and Durham would see a 21.9 percent increase if the Rate Bureau wins out. The changes overall range from a decrease of 7.1 in parts of western North Carolina to an increase of 25 percent in the middle of the state. The rates represent the highest amount all companies can charge their customers.
Barry Smith, a spokesman with the N.C. Department of Insurance, said the department’s legal experts will examine the data to determine if the increase is justified.
“Just because there’s a request doesn’t mean there will be that much of an increase or an increase at all,” he said. “In the past, we have negotiated for either no increase or a lower increase.”
He said the agency will take into account the effect of hurricanes on how much insurance companies have to pay out, and will evaluate how to best ensure competition in the industry.
Joanna Biliouris, chief operating officer at the N.C. Rate Bureau, said the rising cost of building materials, exposure to risk and past insurance claims necessitate evaluating the rates periodically.
The last time the Bureau asked for an increase was in 2014 when it requested an average increase of 25.3 percent. After a homeowners insurance hearing, then-insurance commissioner Wayne Goodwin decided not to grant the change.
In 2012, the industry sought an average increase of 17.7 percent and eventually settled at an overall statewide average of 7 percent after negotiations.
If the Department of Insurance cannot agree with the N.C. Rate Bureau on an increase within 50 days, a hearing will be held that is presided over by the insurance commissioner, who would issue a ruling that could then be appealed to the courts.
How to comment
The state Insurance Department is seeking public comment, as required by law, on the insurance industry’s latest request for higher homeowners’ insurance rates. Members of the public can comment in person in the N.C. Department of Insurance’s second floor hearing room from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 12, 2017. The Department of Insurance is in the Albemarle Building, 325 N. Salisbury St., Raleigh, NC.
Emailed public comments should be sent by Dec. 29, 2017, to 2017HomeInsurance@ncdoi.gov. Written public comments should be mailed to Tricia Ford to be received by Dec. 29, 2017, and addressed to 1201 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1201.
How high could they go?
Here is the rate increase requested by the NC Rate Bureau for various NC counties:
Bladen: 25.2 percent
Brunswick: 54.2 percent inland and 80.5 percent along coast
Carteret: 54.2 percent inland and 80.5 percent along coast
Chatham: 16.3 percent
Cumberland: 26.7 percent
Currituck: 34.4 percent inland, 68.7 percent along coast
Dare: 34.4 percent inland, 68.7 percent along coast
Durham: 21.9 percent
Franklin: 22.1 percent
Hyde: 34.4 percent inland, 68.7 percent along coast
Johnston: 22.1 percent
New Hanover: 54.2 percent inland and 80.5 percent along coast
Orange: 16.3 percent
Pender: 54.2 percent inland and 80.5 percent along coast
Robeson: 25.2 percent
Sampson: 26.7 percent
Wake: 21.9 percent