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Elected officials representing Brunswick County and other coastal communities have joined together to fight against what many are calling unfairly high homeowners’ insurance rate increases for this and other North Carolina beach communities.
Their push, including bills introduced in the North Carolina House and Senate, has been fueled by the outrage of many coastal residents who feel the 29.8 percent coastal insurance increase is too high, too unfair and done without enough public input.
Many residents want to know how this rate came to pass with little to no input from the public.
County attorney Huey Marshall was recently quoted as saying, “there did not appear to be any input from people who owned houses who must build to more stringent code standards.”
Bobby Outten, Dare County’s county attorney has said the rate increases are unfair and proper criteria weren’t used in determining insurance rates.
The North Carolina Rate Bureau disagrees, and in an interview in today’s Beacon, Ray Evans, general manager, is quoted as saying, “We think we’re doing the right thing based on statutory requirements.”
We, however, have some concerns about the process to set this increase. Recently, The Brunswick Beacon sent a reporter to Raleigh to go through almost 7,000 pages of documents about the rate increase. Included in this vast amount of paperwork were memos, e-mails and other correspondence between North Carolina Insurance Commission employees and former state insurance commissioner Jim Long.
The documents are subject to open records laws and were furnished upon request, but it leaves us questioning why so much of this discussion went on out of the public eye.
Instead of exchanging countless e-mails about the issue, would the public’s interest not have been better served by a hearing in which concerned citizens could have spoken out about the matter before it got this far?
If public comment had been solicited, especially from affected community leaders, could not much of this situation (especially pending litigation) have been resolved long before it got to this point?
Evans says, “Of the losses described in the state, in that process, some folks pay more and some folks pay less…That’s one of the reasons the insurance department limits public input—nobody wants to pay more for insurance.”
True, nobody wants to pay more for insurance, but most citizens could at least digest a fair increase, not the initially proposed rate of 69.8 percent or the approved 29.8 percent rate.
In this troubled economy—one where many residents are struggling and others have lost their jobs completely—the department of insurance owes it to coastal citizens to hear their input and re-evaluate the increase.
Make the rate fair across the board, for all of North Carolina.
And citizens, do your part. State legislators have heard your opinions; now it’s time to make sure the North Carolina Rate Bureau and the state Department of Insurance do, too.
If you think this rate is unfair, let them know. You can find out more information about the rate bureau at www.ncrb.org/ncrb. Contact information listed on the site is: P.O. Box 176010, Raleigh, NC 27619-6010; 5401 Six Forks Rd, Raleigh, NC 27609; and phone: (919) 783-9790.
You can find out more about the North Carolina Department of Insurance by going to www.ncdoi.com. Contact information listed on its Web site is: North Carolina Department of Insurance,ee1201 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1201; phone: (800) 546-5664.