Deal sets insurance ratesPublished 9:22pm Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Homeowners in Beaufort County will see their homeowners insurance rates increase by 1 percent, effective July 1.
The 1-percent increase, which also affects Camden, Chowan, Craven, Jones, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrrell and Washington counties. The increase is part of an agreement that N.C. Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin and homeowners insurance companies signed Tuesday.
When the increase takes effect, the average insurance premium in Beaufort County will go from $1,327 a year to $1,340 a year, according to Goodwin’s office.
Homeowners insurance rates will increase 7 percent on average statewide. Barrier islands that are part of some counties — New Hanover, Brunswick, Carteret, Onslow and Pender — will see a 19.8 percent increase in homeowners insurance rates. The mainland of those counties will see an 8.6 percent increase.
“I’m quite happy that it’s 1 percent. I’d rather see it as no percent,” said Beaufort County Commissioner Al Klemm, who followed the issue once the request for a rate increase was first made last year. “I feel for the people who got the higher increases. I’ve never felt like most of Beaufort County was beachfront-type property. I’ve always felt like when the laid out these districts and territories, they laid them out, from maps I saw, along county lines. That did not make sense to me. It made more sense if they would have been laid out more toward geographic lines in relation to the impact of what the damage is.”
About 9,000 comments on the issue from the public were received during the public-comment period, according to Goodwin’s office.
“Homeowners insurance is a very complex issue. We face a great challenge in making sure that it is not only affordable, but available, to consumers across the state,” Goodwin said in a press release. “I feel this settlement helps strike that balance, and I am pleased that the increase will be significantly smaller than what insurers originally requested.”
NC 20, a nonprofit that represents economic-development interests in the 20 counties under the Coastal Area Management Act, fought the requested increase of 30 percent in coastal areas, saying the request was excessive.
“While the settlement agreement may represent a softer blow to coastal homeowners insurance policyholders than prior rate settlement agreements and what was originally proposed by the N.C. Rate Bureau, NC 20 maintains that the rate increases are unwarranted and unjustified, especially given NC DOI’s statements included in the Notice of Hearing. NC 20 was hopeful that the hearing would be held, thus allowing further public transparency of the rate making process and a better understanding of how our homeowners insurance rates are determined,” reads a statement released by NC 20.
After Department of Insurance experts spent months studying the request for a rate increase, it became apparent some increase was justified, mostly because of the steadily rising cost of reinsurance related to hurricane risks and continuing concerns regarding availability, according to Goodwin’s office. To minimize any increase in rates, the department chose to settle on those rates, nullifying the need for a rates hearing set for June 3, according to Goodwin’s office.