RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - The North Carolina Department of Insurance has rejected a proposed 18.7 percent average increase statewide in homeowners insurance, according to a Friday news release from the agency.
"We are not in agreement with the Rate Bureau's proposed increases filed Nov. 17, 2017. The next step, according to statute, is to set a hearing date," said Commissioner Mike Causey. "After hearing and reading the more than 9,000 comments from residents across the state and studying the figures in the filing, it is now necessary to hold a hearing to reach a resolution that will make the most financial sense for our residents and insurance companies."
The hearing is set for July 23 and will begin at 10 a.m. in the Second Floor Hearing Room in the Albemarle Building, 325 N. Salisbury St., Raleigh.
The hearing will be held unless the NC Department of Insurance and NC Rate Bureau are unable to negotiate a settlement before that date. State law gives the insurance commissioner 45 days to issue an order once the hearing concludes. This means the order could be issued in October 2018.
Once the order is issued, the NCRB has the right to appeal the decision before the NC Court of Appeals. A Court of Appeals order could then be appealed to the NC Supreme Court.
The NCRB and DOI can settle the proposed rate increase at any time during litigation.
The NCRB filed the average 18.7 homeowners increase Nov. 17, 2017. The filing covers insurance for residential property, tenants, and condominiums at varying rates around the state.
Under the NCRB proposal, the biggest increases would be felt along the coast. The requested increase for Brunswick County homeowners was between 23.7 and 25 percent.
The NCRB has requested certain areas of western North Carolina receive small rate decreases. These areas include Haywood, Cherokee, Mitchell and Avery counties. Anson, Montgomery, and Richmond counties would also see small rate decreases.
The NCRB represents insurers that write the state's homeowners policies. It is a non-profit unincorporated rating bureau separate from the Department of Insurance. The NCRB also represents auto and workers compensation insurance companies.
The NCDOI held a public comment forum regarding the NCRB rate filing Dec. 12, 2017. Six people attended the forum, including Rep. Bob Muller, R-Brunswick, and Sen. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort. The department also received comments via email and U.S. mail through Dec. 29, 2017.
The last NCRB homeowners rate increase filing was in 2014 that resulted in an order of "no change" from the Commissioner of Insurance. In 2012, the NCRB requested a 17.7 percent increase, which was settled for an increase of 7 percent that took effect in 2013.