Homeowner insurance hike for Coastal Carolina residents

Reported by Colin Hackman - email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WECT) - Homeowners insurance is sharply increasing for those who own homes in Coastal Carolina.

Friday, the Wilmington Association of Realtors invited an official with the Department of Insurance to answer questions regarding the hike.

At the last minute, however, the official backed out.  They say they could not speak due to a recent lawsuit brought against the board by Dare County concerning the same increase.

Local elected leaders and real estate professionals used the gathering to develop a way to voice their opinion that the insurance commission is out of line with what the homeowners of Coastal North Carolina are due.

In November 2008, the state approved a rate hike to bolster what's called "the beach plan."  Premiums in Brunswick, Pender, and New Hanover Counties will be increasing as much as 28%.

"Reportedly the insurance carrier can go up 250 times on your current premium.  Now, is that taxation without representation?" said Brunswick County Commissioner Marty Cooke.  "You sign the form, but basically they had a gun to your head that they were going to bind coverage if not.  You had to sign the form, so did you really get representation?"

Realtors fear home sales will slow, forcing sellers to cut prices which is a tough choice in an already slumping market.

While reducing home prices may be one of the only tools home sellers have to combat the increased premium, some people say the best thing you can do is stay educated.

"Be aware," said Kathleen Riely with the Wilmington Association of Realtors.  "Read the papers.  Go to the general assembly website.  Educate yourself, because if you don't, you can't complain."

For more information go to the North Carolina Department of Insurance website, http://www.ncdoi.com/.