North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin has called upon insurers in his state to withdraw a request for a 25.3 percent rate hike for homeowners insurance, saying he is “appalled” they would seek a raise just six months after a hike went into effect.
The North Carolina Department of Insurance said it received a homeowners insurance rate filing from the North Carolina Rate Bureau in the late afternoon of Friday, Jan. 3. The industry’s Rate Bureau, which represents all companies writing homeowners insurance in the state, has requested a statewide average rate increase of 25.3 percent, varying by territory, with a requested effective date of Aug. 1, 2014.
The requested rate changes range from -2.7 percent to +35 percent. The insurance companies have also requested revisions to the current geographic rating territories.
Goodwin said there will be a public comment session on Friday, Jan. 24, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Raleigh on the Rate Bureau filing.
“I urge North Carolina homeowners to take advantage of the public comment period and let their insurance companies know what they think about the notion of another homeowners insurance rate increase,” said Goodwin.
He made it clear he will hold a complete public hearing and not agree to a settlement if insurers proceed with their filing.
“New homeowners insurance rates went into effect in July 2013. I am appalled that the insurance companies would request another increase just six months later. I believe the insurance companies should withdraw this rate filing immediately. If they do not, the insurance companies should expect a full hearing on this matter; I will not entertain any settlement negotiations.”
Goodwin criticized the bureau for making its filing late on a Friday afternoon. “Also, I take offense at the insurance companies’ concerted efforts to file this request late on a Friday afternoon, when they think the public won’t be paying attention,” the elected regulator said.
Last March, Goodwin signed a settlement agreement with homeowners insurers allowing an overall statewide average rate increase of 7 percent beginning July 1. The insurance companies had requested an overall statewide average rate increase of 17.7 percent on Oct. 1, 2012. The difference between the requested and settled rates amounted to $237 million.
Before the July increase, the last homeowners insurance rate filing occurred in 2008 when the insurance companies requested a 19.5 percent statewide average increase. A settlement agreement allowed for a 4.05 percent statewide average increase to go into effect in May 2009.