Property owners in North Carolina facing huge insurance increases

COMMUNITY

By Michelle Cassell
Managing Editor 

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

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.

This rate filing follows the homeowners’ insurance rate filing that the Department of Insurance received from the North Carolina Rate Bureau in November 2020, where 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%.

A public comment period is required by law to give the public time to address the proposed rate increase.  There are four ways to provide comments:

  • A public comment forum was held to listen to public input on the North Carolina Rate Bureau’s rate increase request at the North Carolina Department of Insurance’s Jim Long Hearing Room on Jan. 22 this included a virtual public comment forum which was held simultaneously.
  • Emailed public comments should be sent by Feb. 2 to: 2024Homeowners@ncdoi.gov.
  • Written public comments must be received by Kimberly W. Pearce, Paralegal III, by Feb. 2 and addressed to 1201 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-1201.

All public comments will be shared with the North Carolina Rate Bureau.  If Department of Insurance officials do not agree with the requested rates, the rates will either be denied or negotiated with the North Carolina Rate Bureau.  If a settlement cannot be reached within 50 days, the Commissioner will call for a hearing.

Following the public hearing, Commissioner Mike Causey issued the following statement to clear up any confusion regarding the recent filing made by insurance companies:

“Many North Carolina citizens have already told me how worried they are about the recent filing made by the N.C. Rate Bureau requesting an increase to homeowners’ insurance rates, and they’ve got good reason to be concerned. An average increase of 42 percent statewide, and as high as 99% for homes on the coast is a lot. “But first, let me be clear – the Commissioner of Insurance in North Carolina does not set insurance rates. The Rate Bureau is an organization created by the N.C. General Assembly. The insurers in the state that write certain lines of personal insurance, including homeowners and automobile insurance, are members of the Rate Bureau. It is the Rate Bureau, and not the Commissioner of Insurance, that submits proposed insurance rates to the Department of Insurance for consideration.”

“Under our laws, the Commissioner has 50 days from the filing date to review the Rate Bureau’s proposal to determine whether it meets certain very technical, mathematical standards. In addition, during this 50-day review period, the public may submit comments on the Rate Bureau’s proposal. Consumers can do so by submitting those comments in writing to us via mail or e-mail by February 2.”

“I also scheduled a public comment forum that took place today as another way for the public to express their views, and some speakers at that forum said that I should have attended. But, the Rate Bureau has accused the Commissioner of Insurance in the past of prejudging a rate request before a notice of hearing may be issued. So, it is important that I not appear to have prejudged the request before our review is complete. However, I have heard the comments today and the countless comments submitted by our citizens, and I take them all very seriously.”

“During this 50-day review period, which expires on February 22, the Department’s actuaries, attorneys and consultants are working tirelessly to determine whether the Rate Bureau’s proposed increase is “excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory. “If it is, I will call for a hearing on the matter and will fight for our consumers to ensure that any proposed increase is reasonable and actuarially sound. Since I have had the honor to serve as your Commissioner of Insurance, I have strived to ensure that any proposed increases to your insurance rates are fair, and I will continue to do so now and in the future. But, just to be clear, although the Rate Bureau submitted the requested increase, the request has not been approved.”

TLR is reminding residents that they have two remaining methods of voicing their concerns about the proposed rate hikes:

  • Emailed public comments should be sent by Feb. 2 to: 2024Homeowners@ncdoi.gov.
  • Written public comments must be received by Kimberly W. Pearce, Paralegal III, by Feb. 2 and addressed to 1201 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-1201.

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. 

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