• 63°

NC insurers want higher homeowner rates

RALEIGH (AP) — North Carolina’s insurance commissioner on Monday began deciding whether to allow homeowners’ coverage costs to rise by as much as 35 percent even as more insurers demand even higher rates in agreements with customers.

Craig Smith has seen the annual insurance premium for his rural Pitt County home double to $2,000 since he and his wife Brenda moved in 12 years ago, he said. For about half that time, insurance companies refused to cover his $365,000 home about 130 miles from the Atlantic coast unless he signed an agreement to pay a price they wanted that more than the regulated rate set by state Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin.

“I went to several different companies. They won’t write a policy unless you sign a paper,” Smith said. “It was, ‘you sign this paper or we’ll cancel you.”’

Such policies increased last year to 30 percent of North Carolina’s $2.4 billion homeowners market, up from 23 percent in 2010, according to state Insurance Department data.

Smith spoke as Goodwin opened hearings expected to last four weeks on a rate increase that nearly 100 companies selling homeowners policies in the state requested in January. Goodwin’s decision on price increases averaging 25 percent statewide is not expected before late this year.

Goodwin’s staffers called the proposal excessive. A lawyer for the North Carolina Rate Bureau representing the companies, Mickey Spivey, said insurers are asking less than the 41 percent increase needed to cover obligations and costs while still making a fair profit. But insurance premiums must be high enough to be attractive for companies to take a risk by insuring homes and amass enough in reserves to pay claims when a big hurricane hits, he said.

Spivey reminded Goodwin about a change in state law five years ago that capped potential costs to insurers from a disastrous hurricane season by allowing a surcharge of up to 10 percent to be added to every property insurance policy statewide.

North Carolina homeowners saw a statewide average 7 percent increase a year ago, but companies said they needed more to meet their projections for future claims.

North Carolina’s average premium for a homeowners policy was lower in 2011 than the national average, though state comparisons are difficult because of wide variations in hazards, economic conditions and real estate values, according to the most recent comparison released in December by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. However the rate at which North Carolina premiums increased was higher than the national average in 2011 and 2010, the report said.

Homeowners in 18 of the state’s rural, inland counties including Franklin, Johnston, Nash, Anson, Montgomery, Lenoir, Wilson and Richmond counties also could see rates jump by up to 35 percent. Homeowners in the cities of Durham and Raleigh would see premiums rise by up to 25 percent, Greensboro and Winston-Salem residents by 21 percent, and Charlotte homeowners by 15 percent, according to plans updated last week.

The rate Goodwin approves will also affect people like Smith, since a consent-to-rate agreement can’t exceed 250 percent of the rate determined, agency spokeswoman Kerry Hall said.

Comments

Crime

Blotter: Man faces sexual exploitation charge for images on Instagram

News

Defendant convicted in attempted murder case on the run after fleeing from trial

Business

Downtown Gateway Building to be renamed for late Paul Fisher

Coronavirus

Rowan County COVID-19 data for April 15

Local

Rep. Warren’s bill would prohibit parking in electric vehicle charging stations

Local

Historic Preservation Commission approves Integro Technologies expansion, Paint the Pavement project

Education

Faith Academy, RSS will negotiate over what goes, stays in elementary school

Crime

Teacher killed in Alamance County shootout with Mexican drug cartel

Coronavirus

Bill would give more tax breaks on COVID-19 loans

Nation/World

No response as divers knock on capsized ship’s hull

Local

Quotes of the week

Crime

Blotter: Man found on church property with litany of drugs

Crime

Man charged in connection to 2019 overdose death

Business

‘It’s our big time’: Salisbury Farmers Market reopens Saturday

Education

Schools capital funding still frozen as RSS sends local budget to county

Business

Shields, Cheerwine Festival receive N.C. Main Street Awards

Kannapolis

Duke University launches kidney disease study in Kannapolis for people of African descent

Education

Horizons Unlimited will hold in-person summer camps

Education

Education briefs: Catawba planning for more in-person activities, free summer school tuition

Coronavirus

County’s full COVID-19 vaccinations top 22,600

High School

High school golf: With Merrell, Mustangs back on top

Local

Spencer investigating rat problem on South Iredell Street

News

Livingstone, Mission House Church to host national ‘Black Voters Matter’ listening session

Education

Shoutouts