In 2014, North Carolina Department of Insurance received a homeowners insurance rate filing from the N.C. Rate Bureau in the late afternoon of Friday, Jan. 3. The N.C. Rate Bureau has requested increases in our area of up to 35%, with a requested effective date ofAug. 1, 2014.
In coastal North Carolina, the requested rate changes range from -2.7 percent to +35 percent. The insurance companies have also requested revisions to the current geographic rating territories (see graphic below). The result of the territories changing means that some areas of inland southeastern North Carolina (Territory 52B) could see a decrease in rates while other areas (Territory 8, Territory 52A) are poised for a 35% increase.
The increases proposed for 2014 follow increases in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2012 and every rate cycle since 1992.
Please join BASE in calling upon the North Carolina Commissioner of Insurance to resoundingly DENY the proposed insurance increase.
MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!
Written public comments will be accepted from Jan. 3 through Jan. 31. It is as simple as sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and expressing your opposition to further increases.
DRAFT COMMENTS CAN BE FOUND BELOW. Just open the document, copy, paste and email your opposition to the Department of Insurance.
Several additional suggestions for comments:
-Ask the Commissioner to:
- continue to publicly and privately ask that the insurance companies withdraw the filing and
- NOT grant any homeowners insurance increases
Use historical examples on your property: amount of increases in the past, number of claims made (if any), proactive storm measures you have installed at your property, etc.
For people who would like to weigh in on the rate requests in person, there will be a public comment session on Friday, Jan. 24, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Jim Long Hearing Room of the Dobbs Building, 430 N. Salisbury St., Raleigh.
The Insurance Commissioner issued a strongly worded statement on the rate case filing:
“New homeowners insurance rates went into effect in July 2013. I am appalled that the insurance companies would request another increase just six months later. I believe the insurance companies should withdraw this rate filing immediately. If they do not, the insurance companies should expect a full hearing on this matter; I will not entertain any settlement negotiations. I urge North Carolina homeowners to take advantage of the public comment period and let their insurance companies know what they think about the notion of another homeowners insurance rate increase.
Also, I take offense at the insurance companies’ concerted efforts to file this request late on a Friday afternoon, when they think the public won’t be paying attention.”
The filing is available for public review on the Department of Insurance website. To view the entire 1187-page filing.
RECENT HISTORY OF HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE
In late 2008, the outgoing Commissioner of Insurance for North Carolina approved significant changes to both basic homeowners insurance rates and the rates which apply to the mandatory wind and hail coverage (called the Beach Plan) coastal homeowners must carry. For some coastal citizens these increases meant a 30% increase in basic homeowners insurance in addition to significant Beach Plan increases including a proposed 2% deductible and highly increased surcharges.
Unchallenged, these impacts would have been tremendously detrimental to our coastal communities and eastern North Carolina as a whole. To mitigate the impacts the increases would have caused, BASE worked with our local governments, state lawmakers, citizens, industry partners and media to illuminate the issue and lead the effort for reform. To keep the issue at the forefront, BASE was frequently sourced in print and radio, appeared on WILM’s Byline:Wilmington, served on a coastal insurance panel at the 2009 Shape of the Coast meeting and even garnered a specific mention in the August 12, 2009 Wilmington StarNews editorial for our efforts. BASE has been working on the homeowners insurance for a number of years but served as the primary lobbyist on behalf of the interests of all in the 20 coastal counties during this latest discussion. However, without the support of our legislative leaders, local governments and our members, e ven a small amount of change would have been impossible.
BASE Governmental Affairs Director Tyler Newman discusses Homeowners Insurance with WILM’s Donn Ansell on Byline: Wilmington
LEGISLATIVE CHANGES TO THE BEACH PLAN
BASE served as the lobbying force for the 20 coastal counties as the homeowners insurance issue was deliberated by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2009. While the legislation focused on the Beach Plan and not homeowners insurance as a whole, the result was tremendously important to all North Carolina citizens. Without a financially viable Beach Plan, insurers would be hesitant to write policies throughout North Carolina, due to the unknown risk. So, what did we accomplish?
HB 1305 Omnibus Beach Plan Changes (Rep. Holliman)
PASSED BY NC GENERAL ASSEMBLY, Signed into law by Governor Perdue on Wednesday August 26, 2009
- Most critically, ensures financial stability of the Beach Plan (retaining surplus in the Plan–$41 million out in 2006)
- In the event of a loss to the Beach Plan, creates $1B assessment to Insurance Companies before statewide assessments (effectively $3.4 Billion damages before statewide impact). Previously this amount was a critical unknown which impacted their ability to quantify their risk in NC.
- Protects policyholders statewide by providing financial stability for the plan—which should encourage insurance companies to stay in North Carolina and continue to write policies statewide
- Changes Beach Plan name to “Coastal Property Insurance Pool”
- Legislatively sets surcharges at 5% (wind) and 15% (full peril)
- Establishes 1% named storm deductible
- Removes the proposed requirement for flood insurance (House amendment) and removes surcharges for commercial and dwelling policies (Senate amendment)
- Additional positive provisions in the bill: creates an installment payment option, provides mitigation credits for voluntary measures (storm shutters, roof tie-downs, etc.) and creates a grant program.
Overall, increased transparency and public input of Beach Plan activities and actions of the Rate Bureau.
Downside of HB 1305:
- Reduces residential coverage limits in Beach Plan to $750,000 (from $1.5 million)
- Reduces contents coverage from 70% to 40% (unintended consequences?)
HB 1305 calls for Legislative Research Commission to study:
- Need for changes in the Beach Plan Board
- Adequacy of public participation in the filing of rates by the NC Rate Bureau
- Examine feasibility of establishing a permanent public advocacy staff to participate and advocate in rate-making proceedings (Utility Commission-style?)
- Interim report due for 2010 session, final report due for 2011 General Assembly