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Homeowners Insurance Companies Request 25 Percent Hike, NCDOI Rate Hearing Set for Oct. 20 in Raleigh

By Jesse Wood

July 16, 2014. Yesterday, N.C. Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin announced that an insurance rate hearing, initially scheduled for Aug. 6, has been rescheduled for Oct. 20.

Earlier in the year, the N.C. Rate Bureau, which represents insurance companies, requested an “overall statewide average increase of 25.3 percent for homeowners insurance rates.”

The increase will vary by location and marks the third double-digit rate-hike request from insurance companies in the past five years.

A press release from the state department noted that “after significant revisions were made to the original rate filing,” experts in the N.C. Department of Insurance needed more time to prepare testimony for the rate increase request.

“Goodwin ordered that a hearing be held in the matter because the proposed rates appear to the Department of Insurance to be excessive and unfairly discriminatory,” according to the release.

While the hearing is open to the public, homeowners are not allowed to speak at the public hearing. The department said that more than 10,000 mailed and emailed comments were received by the department during a month-long public comment process in January, when the rate-hike request was received from the N.C. Rate Bureau. Also, 25 people spoke in person at a public comment session on Jan. 24.

At the public hearing on Oct. 20, Goodwin will serve as hearing office to determine any warranted rate adjustments. Those speaking will be experts from N.C. Rate Bureau on behalf of the insurance companies and the N.C. Department of Insurance on behalf of the public, the release noted.

This 25.3 percent request is not unlike a 17.7 percent request from the N.C. Rate Bureau in 2012 that was adjusted by Goodwin to 7 percent, effective July 1, 2013.

When that 7 percent was approved in 2013, the Insurance Journal reported that the last time the NCDPI approve a rate hike prior was in 2009 when insurance companies requested 19.5 percent, “but settled for 4 percent.”

The Oct. 20 hearing starts at 9 a.m. in the Jim Long Hearing Room on the third floor of the Dobbs Building, located at 430 North Salisbury St. in Raleigh.

The filing is available for public review on NCDOI’s website. To view the entire filing, go to http://pserff.ncdoi.net/pc.html and enter the Serff Tracking Number NCRI-129361028.