Homeowners insurance rate hike put on hold

Reported by Gavin Johnson - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - Friday evening a state superior court judge ruled to put some rising coastal insurance rates on hold.

Coastal homeowners under the "Beach or Fair" plans will not see their deductible or wind and hail surcharges increase for the time being.

"On behalf of the citizens, I'm extremely pleased," said Kure Beach Mayor Pro-Tem Jim Durgan.  "That's a significant financial load that's been at least temporarily lifted from them."

Durgan said the 15-25 percent surcharge increase would have put a strain on the community.

"A lot of people think if you live on the coast you have to be wealthy," said Durgan.  "Well they're a lot of people born and raised here, they retire here and have fixed incomes with taxes. If they increase would have happen they would lose their homes."

Kure Beach town officials were some of the first in the area to join a lawsuit which was spearheaded by Dare County.

Durgan said town leaders in Kure Beach didn't think it was fair for the State Department of Insurance to make them pay for weather disasters, but not make other municipalities do the same.

"We end up paying for the ice storms that occur in the mountains in North Carolina," said Durgan.  "We pay for the fires that occur in the forest in North Carolina. Yet they want just coastal communities to pay for storms that come here."

The commissioner of the State Department of Insurance will now be asked to reassess the rate schedule, but for now the judge's ruling will hold.

Homeowners' insurance rates had been scheduled to increase significantly by mid-summer.

Kathleen Riely the director for Wilmington Regional Association of Realtors says the ruling means the Department of Insurance did not use proper procedures when trying to increase the surcharge.

"Hopefully, the general assembly will see this and serious consider the changes," said Riely.  "And hopefully, them will have the Department of Insurance reevaluate the rates and make some changes and make it more fair."

At least one municipality plans to keep fighting until some changes are made.

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