NC Residents Speak Against 42% Rate Increase Requested by Rate Bureau

13 Feb

During a recent public comment session held by the North Carolina Department of Insurance, dozens of North Carolina residents spoke out against an average rate increase of 42% that the North Carolina Rate Bureau is requesting. 

The Rate Bureau represents insurance companies in the state and earlier this year requested average rate increases of 42%. They are claiming that climate change has led to more severe flooding and larger hurricanes which has pushed up their cost of doing business which is why they need to raise premiums. 

At the public comment session, homeowners, realtors and even elected officials said that an increase of that size would be a burden to low-income residents, retirees and others who live on fixed incomes. They also fear it could make it impossible for young and moderate-income families to purchase a home. 

In a recent NC Newsline article, Wayne County resident Christal Howell said that if the proposed rate increase in homeowner insurance was approved it would force her to choose between paying the mortgage and buying food for her young family.

“If rates continue to increase, we will and already have considered leaving the state to live in a state that better benefits our bottom line,” Howell said at the recent public comment session.

The requested rate increases are astounding, even for more inland counties. The requested increase by the Rate Bureau is 57.8% for Bertie, Greene, Martin, Pitt and Wayne counties.

Coastal counties will see much larger increases with requested rate increases of 99.4% for Brunswick, Carteret, New Hanover, Onslow and Pender counties.

“This increase impacts us in an insane manner,” said Swansboro Mayor John Davis in the recent NC Newsline article. “We find this to be obtuse at best to ask for a 99% increase and poor negotiating at the least knowing that what you’re really asking for is a 10% to 15% to 20% increase, which we do not accept either.”

The cities of Raleigh and Durham and in Wake County will see increases of almost 40% if the Department of Insurance approves the Rate Bureau request. 

To see the full list of the proposed homeowner increases, click here. The Rate Bureau asked that the new rates become effective Aug. 1.

“We do have a large population of folks that are below the poverty line as well as a population of folks who are on fixed incomes and with the current inflation rate, their fixed incomes are not keeping up with such rate hikes and inflationary measures like these,” said Davis in the NC Newsline article.

Davis claims that the Onslow County commissioners will adopt a resolution this week that opposes the rate increase.

Michelle Smoak who lives in Stella in Carteret County said a proposed 44% rate increase would nearly double her $1,400 a year homeowner’s insurance.

“My husband is about to retire from the Marine Corps and we are extremely worried about this increase they’re talking about,” Smoak said in the NC Newline article. 

“It’s very scary when you’re talking about raising somebody’s mortgage two, three, four hundred dollars,” Smoak continued in the article. “It makes you want to leave and find some where cheaper, but the problem is that you’re probably not going to find that.”

Sen. Natasha Marcus, D-Mecklenburg, who is currently running for Insurance Commissioner, would like to see a full public hearing about the request from the Rate Bureau. 

“That would include evidence presented by insurance companies, under oath, about their profits, about their salaries, about the claims made in the different regions of the state,” Marcus said in the Newline article. “That evidence needs to be cross-examined by the Commissioner of Insurance himself.”

Marcus also said that residents are not looking for another settlement from the Department of Insurance like the one in 2020. That compromise that resulted in a 7.9% overall average increase.  

Local realtors had their say as well at the public comment session. Christina Asbury, who is the NC Realtors’ legislative chairperson, said the proposed rate hike is excessive.

“North Carolina is facing a housing crisis,” Asbury said in the NC Newline article. “Additionally, the cost of homeownership continues to skyrocket resulting in homeowners being locked in and homebuyers locked out.”

Residents can email or submit written comments to the Department of Insurance until Feb. 2.

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