Insurance companies in North Carolina have requested an increase in home insurance rates, with an average increase of 42.2% across the state, and up to 99.4% in certain coastal areas. However, the insurance commissioner, Mike Causey, will decide before February 22 whether to accept or negotiate these increases. In the past, Causey has managed to negotiate down to significantly lower increases than initially requested.
Home Insurance Increase Request for North Carolina Counties
Insurance companies pursuing a 21% increase in home insurance rates for homeowners in Buncombe and Henderson counties. North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey is slated to decide on the proposed hikes before Feb. 22. If approved, the new rates become effective in the summer.
Home insurance policies cover damages from incidents such as fire, theft, and weather events. The requested increase varies statewide, averaging at 42.2%. The maximum proposed increase of 99.4% targets beach areas of Brunswick, Carteret, New Hanover, Onslow, and Pender counties. In Western North Carolina, the lowest proposed increase is 4.3%.
The N.C. Rate Bureau, which represents insurance companies, filed over 2,000 pages of documents detailing their rate requests. These proposals aim to implement rate changes by Aug. 1. A 21% increase on a $1,500 annual premium equates to a $315 increase, totaling $1,815.
Public Responses and Comments
The Department of Insurance held a public hearing in Raleigh on Jan. 22. Public comments on the proposal are accepted until Feb. 2 via email or ground mail.
Should the Department of Insurance deny the rates, the department will negotiate with the bureau. If no settlement is reached within 50 days, a formal public hearing will be scheduled. The commissioner’s decision can be appealed to court.
Recent history shows that final rate increases can significantly differ from initial requests. For instance, a requested average increase of 24.5% in November 2020 resulted in a 7.9% average increase following negotiations in November 2021.
Insurance Commissioner Causey stated in a video he is committed to fighting for lower rates for consumers. David Wheeler, a Democrat running for commissioner this year, expressed opposition to the increase and pledged to hold public hearings for every rate hike request if elected.
Department spokesperson Barry Smith noted the necessity of ensuring insurance companies have sufficient funds to handle disasters. David Wheeler criticised current commissioner Causey’s hiring of a private driver at an hourly rate of $44, terming it an unnecessary expense for taxpayers.