Thousands weigh in on 42% proposed NC home insurance rate hike

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Many people from across North Carolina on Monday blasted a proposal to significantly increase homeowners’ insurance rates by an average of 42.2 percent.

The North Carolina Rate Bureau submitted the request to North Carolina Dept. of Insurance, which held Monday’s forum in accordance with state law.

“This planned hike is nothing short of bonkers, demented and loco,” said Edward Binanay, of Swansboro.

The submission from the rate bureau calls for varying increases across the state.

For example, in beach communities in Brunswick, Carteret, New Hanover, Onslow and Pender counties, the average increase would be 99.4 percent.

The lowest proposed increase is in the western part of the state, where the plan calls for 4.3 percent increases in Transylvania, Swain, Haywood and Madison counties.

Jared Chappell, chief operating officer of the NC Rate Bureau, said a variety of factors went into the request, which is the first one the bureau has submitted since 2020.

“The cost of claims has gone up significantly since then. We see the cost of the construction materials themselves have gone up,” he said. “Insurance companies need to buy reinsurance, it’s a cost of doing business for them, that covers catastrophic claims. And, since 2020 the cost of reinsurance for carriers working in North Carolina has gone up roughly 50 percent per year over that time. So, that expense for insurance companies is now making up roughly a third of the premium.”

Catherine Nestor, who lives in Wake Forest, said she and her husband retired to North Carolina from Chicago hoping to enjoy a lower cost of living.

The average proposed increase in Wake County is 39.8 percent.

“One or both of us would be forced to take extra work. This was not our plan in retirement,” she said.

Commissioner Mike Causey (R) will attempt to reach a settlement within 50 days of the proposal being submitted, which occurred on Jan. 3.

People can continue to submit public comments until Feb. 2. You can find more information on how to do that here.

The Dept. of Insurance said it’s already received 8,895 emailed comments as of Friday, Jan. 19.

Causey acknowledged in a video he released last week that the numbers are “shocking.”

He pointed out that previous requests by the bureau have been negotiated down. For example, in 2020, the NC Rate Bureau requested an average increase of 24.5 percent. Ultimately, they settled for 7.9 percent.

Chappell denied that the request for a 42.2 percent increase was a negotiating tactic.

“It’s just what the data reflects. I mean, it’s complicated. There’s roughly 2,000 pages of data that we turn in with the filing. But, it boils down to claims and expenses versus premiums paid,” he said. “I also understand that we need to maintain a healthy insurance market in the state as well. It’s pretty critical. Or, we could end up in situations like what you see in some other states in the country where insurance companies are pulling away.”

State Sen. Natasha Marcus, who is running in the Democratic primary for insurance commissioner, criticized Causey for not attending Monday’s forum.

“The Commissioner of Insurance is elected by the people and is supposed to represent the people in all matters related to insurance and rates in a situation like this that has had the attention of a lot of people. I believe that Commissioner Causey should be here today to hear directly from the people,” she said.

Jason Tyson, communications director for the NC Dept. of Insurance, said attorneys encouraged Causey not to attend.

“He wants to be an impartial party here, not appear to be on either side of this issue. Obviously, also his legal team advised him it’s probably best for him not to be here for that reason,” he said.

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