Goodwin: Proposed insurance rate hike ‘discriminatory’

By on February 19, 2014

insurance

Major damage is infrequent on the Outer Banks, which is slated for the biggest rate increase. (Missie Smith, Voice file)

Calling another round of proposed rate increases “excessive and unfairly discriminatory,” N.C. Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin has ordered homeowners insurance companies to explain at hearing in August why they want the hike.

The North Carolina Rate Bureau, which represents insurance companies that write policies in the state, submitted an average statewide increase in homeowners policy rates of 25.3 percent, with increases of over 30 percent in many coastal counties.

The rate request was filed on Jan. 3, coming on the heels of a 7 percent average statewide increase in premiums that took effect last July.

Locally, the average increase last year was as high as 17 percent in coastal Currituck, Hyde and Dare counties.

In a press release, Goodwin’s office said the filing uses hypothetical rather than actual data.

Goodwin added that when calculating costs, including those for the net costs of reinsurance and trended modeled hurricane loses, the filing lacks necessary data, documentation and explanations to meet a statutory burden of proof for increases.

He also said old data was used in the filing when more recent data should be available and included in the analysis.

Over 10,000 written public comments were submitted on the proposal in January, while 25 people spoke at a public comments session on Jan. 24.

The hearing is scheduled for Aug. 6, at 10 a.m. at 430 N. Salisbury Street in Raleigh. The public can attend, but there will be no opportunity to provide input.

The case against the rate increase will be presented by experts from the NCDOI, while experts from the N.C. Rate Bureau will present the insurers case.

Goodwin will serve as the hearing officer and will determine what, if any, rate increases are warranted.

Under North Carolina law, his decision can be appealed through the state courts if the insurance companies do not agree with his determination.

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