‘Drastic’ homeowners’ insurance rate hike denied

A sign announcing a home for sale is posted outside a home, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024, in Aceworth, Ga., near Atlanta. On Thursday, Freddie Mac reports on this week's average U.S. mortgage rates. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

RALEIGH — The N.C. Rate Bureau’s proposed statewide rate hike of 42.2% for homeowners insurance was rejected by North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey on Feb. 6.

“I haven’t seen the evidence to justify such a drastic rate increase on North Carolina consumers,” Causey said in a statement. “The Department of Insurance has received more than 24,000 emailed comments on this proposal, with hundreds more policyholders commenting by mail. Consumers deserve a more thorough review of this proposal. I intend to make sure they get that review.”

This is the second time a large price hike has been submitted by the N.C. Rate Bureau (NCRB. The organization sought a 24.5% increase in Nov. 2021 but settled for 7.9% after negotiations with Causey.

Had it been approved, the new rate would have gone into effect on Aug. 1. The NCRB is a “non-profit, unincorporated rating bureau” that was created by the General Assembly in 1977.

The NCRB will make its case at a hearing on Oct. 7, while Causey’s N.C. Department of Insurance (NCDOI) will present its objections. A final decision must be made within 45 days.

In the notice for the hearing, NCDOI cites a deficiency in data presented by the NCRB and “contends that, if the Bureau’s filing were accepted as is, it would unlawfully prejudice and burden the consumers of the state.”

39.9% – The proposed increase in homeowners’ insurance rates in Hoke County.

As previously reported by North State Journal, the rate table provided by Causey’s office showed increases across the state ranging from a low of 4.3% in Haywood, Madison, Swain, and Transylvania Counties to a whopping 99.4% increase in the beach areas in Brunswick, Carteret, New Hanover, Onslow, and Pender counties. The average increase across the 29 areas would be 39.1%, with the highest and lowest rates removed, the average increase drops to 33.9%, per the table.

In January, most of North Carolina’s Congressional delegation, led by Rep. Greg Murphy (NC-03), sent a letter to Causey urging him to reject the proposal, citing rising home prices, inflation, and the hike adding to consumer financial burdens.

Republicans Chuck Edwards, Virginia Foxx, Richard Hudson, and David Rouzer, and Democrats Don Davis, Valerie Foushee, Jeff Jackson and Wiley Nickel co-signed the letter.

“I’m very glad to see NC Insurance Commissioner Causey has rejected the Rate Bureau’s proposed homeowners’ insurance hike,” said Murphy in a post on X. “Thank you to the bipartisan coalition that joined the letter I led in urging this bold action to protect homeowners across the state.”

“I’m glad to see that Commissioner Causey listened to me and my fellow colleagues’ calls to reject plans to raise homeowner insurance rates for North Carolinians,” Rep. Hudson (NC-09) said in a press release following Causey’s rejection of the hike. “This is a big win for hardworking families in the Sandhills and across our state.”