Don’t confuse “dwelling insurance” with “homeowners insurance”

COMMUNITY NEWS

By Michelle Cassell
Managing Editor 

As reported earlier by TLR, Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey announced that the North Carolina Rate Bureau had completed a rate filing with the Department of Insurance, asking for an average statewide increase in homeowners insurance rates of 42%. The proposed increase for Orange and Chatham Counties is 25.1%.

According to the Department of Insurance’s press release on its website, the North Carolina Rate Bureau represents companies that write insurance policies in the state and is a separate entity from the North Carolina Department of Insurance.  The Rate Bureau was created by the General Assembly in 1977. Any insurance companies writing homeowners insurance or personal automobile insurance policies in North Carolina must be a member of the Rate Bureau.

This rate filing followed the homeowner’s insurance rate filing that the Department of Insurance received from the North Carolina Rate Bureau in November 2020. In that filing, the Rate Bureau requested an overall average increase of 24.5%. That filing resulted in a settlement between Commissioner Causey and the Rate Bureau for an overall average rate increase of 7.9%.

In a February 6 press release, Commissioner Causey rejected the rate increase request, calling it “excessive and unfairly discriminatory.” The Department of Insurance received more than 24,000 emailed comments on the proposal, with hundreds more policyholders commenting by mail. Scores more consumers spoke during a public comment forum.

“Homeowners were shocked with the high amount requested by the insurance companies, and so was I,” Commissioner Causey said. Commissioner Causey has set a hearing date for Oct. 7 at 10 a.m.  State law gives the Insurance Commissioner 45 days to issue an order once the hearing concludes. 

In a May 30 press release, Commissioner Causey announced that the Department had completed negotiations for dwelling insurance. (NOT homeowners insurance emphasis added by TLR). The Commissioner negotiated an average statewide increase of 8%, which is 42.6 percentage points lower than the 50.6% increase requested by the N.C. Rate Bureau. This is in response to a dwelling rate request, NOT the homeowners’ insurance rate request.

The press release goes on to say: “Dwelling insurance is different from homeowners insurance. Dwelling policies are primarily offered to non-owner-occupied residences of no more than four units, including rental properties, investment properties, and other properties that are not the property owner’s primary residence.”

The Commissioner issued another press release on June 11, “I wish to clear up any confusion regarding recent rate filings from the N.C. Rate Bureau. As the Insurance Commissioner, it is my job to protect consumers by keeping rates as low as possible and maintaining a solvent insurance market.  In July of 2023, the North Carolina Rate Bureau requested a 50.6% combined statewide increase for dwelling insurance rates. I ultimately recommended a combined 8% statewide increase, which the Rate Bureau agreed to in a settlement. This saved North Carolina consumers $151.7 million per year compared to what the Rate Bureau requested, and allows North Carolina’s insurance market to remain stable and solvent.”

The press release went on to say: “Separately from the dwelling settlement, NCDOI continues to review the data provided by the Rate Bureau concerning the recent homeowners’ filing and may request more data from it so that we can ensure consumers are paying a fair rate while also ensuring a solvent insurance market. The homeowner’s hearing is currently scheduled for Oct. 7.”

In summary, if you own a dwelling, your insurance rate will go up a statewide average of 8% effective November 1, 2024. Homeowners still need to wait for a settlement, if one is available, or a hearing on October 7, 2024, for further news.

TLR will continue to follow this story.


Michelle Cassell is a seasoned reporter who has covered everything from crime to hurricanes and local politics to human interest over the course of 35 years. As managing editor, she hopes to encourage writers of a wide range of backgrounds and interests in TLR’s coverage of Southern Orange County news. 
This reporter can be reached at Info@TheLocalReporter.press

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