Insurance companies across North Carolina are asking Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin to raise premium maximums in a public hearing process that began last Monday.
“We believe we are entitled, as the insurance industry, to a rate that is not discriminatory, not excessive and not inadequate. What we’re trying to do is make certain that the base premium is appropriate in the state,” said Ray Evans, general manager of the North Carolina Rate Bureau (an organization that represents insurance companies).
Nearly 100 companies that sell homeowners’ policies have requested increases ranging from 3% to 32%.
The reasoning provided by insurers for the proposed hike is that major hurricanes can cause destruction that costs billions of dollars in insurance claims.
Durham and Wake are both counties that could see increases of over 30%. Evans explained that these estimates are based on past payouts. “The losses [in those areas] exceed the premiums by a substantial amount, and that’s the only reason,” he said.
He further justified the proposal by saying that the state hasn’t seen a major increase in 15 years. According to the NCRB, the request is lower than the 41% that would actually allow for coverage of costs and a fair profit margin.
North Carolina homeowners were hit with a 7% increase last year, but insurance companies say events like last winter’s ice storm — which damaged thousands of homes in the state — mean that further measures are necessary.
However, several Insurance Department staff have labeled the proposal excessive.
Onslow County Manager Jeffrey Hudson, who attended the hearing Monday, said he’s had residents tell him they’ll need to drop their insurance coverage altogether if rates go up so steeply. “They said, ‘I have to make a decision. Do I have insurance for my home for something that may happen, or do I continue to get the medications and the food that I need on a weekly basis?’” Hudson told local media outlets.
Although the hearing is public, no public commenting is allowed at this time. A comment period earlier in the year saw more than 10,000 letters and emails sent to the Department of Insurance.
A decision is not expected until late this year or January of 2015.