Beach areas of NHC to see nearly 20 percent jump in homeowners insurance

by Michelle Saxton
Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Homeowners insurance rates in New Hanover County will increase by 19.8 percent for beach-area homes and 8.6 percent in more inland areas starting in July, according to the North Carolina Department of Insurance.

That could mean a rise in insurance costs from $2,342 to $2,806 for certain homes valued at $150,000 in the beach areas of New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender, Onslow and Carteret counties, and from $1,616 to $1,754 for more inland areas of those counties, rate revision breakdowns show.

“I’m not surprised,” Kathleen Riely, governmental affairs director for the Wilmington Regional Association of REALTORS®, said in a Wednesday, March 6, phone interview. “This is a trend … of slowly and progressively raising the rates in the coastal areas.”

Statewide average rate increases will be about 7 percent under a settlement agreement Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin signed on Tuesday, March 6, with North Carolina Rate Bureau-represented homeowners insurance companies. 

The settled rates could save policyholders in North Carolina $237 million when compared with the rate increases insurance companies had requested last October that averaged 17.7 percent statewide, the department said in a news release.

“Homeowners insurance is a very complex issue. We face a great challenge in making sure that it is not only affordable, but available, to consumers across the state,” Goodwin said in the March 6 news release. “I feel this settlement helps strike that balance, and I am pleased that the increase will be significantly smaller than what insurers originally requested.”

The department cited steadily rising costs of reinsurance related to hurricane risks and ongoing concerns regarding availability for justifying rate increases.

“This assumption that the hurricanes only hit the East Coast is not true,” Riely said. “There have been hurricanes coming through North Carolina that have hit all parts of the state.” 

The 19.8 percent increase was the highest settled rate revision, with the beach areas of Currituck, Dare and Hyde counties next at 17 percent. 

Still, Riely said the rate increases are more evenly distributed than four years ago.

During the last homeowners insurance rate revisions, which took effect in 2009, rates went up 17.5 percent in the beach areas of New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender, Onslow and Carteret counties and 29.8 percent in more inland areas of those counties; whereas rates dropped 4 percent in Charlotte and 6 percent in Gaston, Mecklenburg and Union counties. The statewide average was about a 4 percent increase.

Under the new revisions, rates will rise 8.4 percent in Charlotte and 9.3 percent in Gaston, Mecklenburg and Union.

The recent settlement removes the need for a June hearing on the matter, the department said.


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