Homeowner insurance rates could jump an average of more than 42% in North Carolina under a new proposal with the Department of Insurance.

The price hike requested by the North Carolina Rate Bureau could double insurance rates for some homeowners on the coast. But just because the Rate Bureau asked for steep hikes, that doesn’t mean the insurance companies will get it.

Any rate increase still has to be approved by the North Carolina Department of Insurance, which has in the past watered down any rate hike proposals. It also happens to be an election year for state Insurance Commissioner, and Republican Mike Causey is running for his third term leading the agency.

How are rates set?

The North Carolina Rate Bureau is a nonprofit established by the General Assembly to represent insurance companies in the state. The bureau proposes insurance rate increases to the North Carolina Department of Insurance.

It’s up to the state Department of Insurance to actually set a new rate. If state regulators don’t agree with the proposal, the department and the bureau can try to negotiate a rate that they can agree on. 

If regulators and the bureau cannot come to an agreement after 50 days, the state Insurance Commissioner can call for a hearing.

When was the last rate change?

The last time the Rate Bureau requested a rate hike was in 2020. That time the bureau asked for an average 24.5% increase.

The Insurance Commissioner argued that was too much and came to a settlement for an average rate increase of 7.9%.

What’s the request?

The Rate Bureau filed the homeowners insurance rate hike request at the beginning of the year. 

The request is for an average increase statewide of 42.2%, but the amount of the increase varies based on county and zip code.

The stiffest price hikes are on the coast. The Rate Bureau wants a 99.4% increase for homeowners along the beach in Brunswick, Carteret, New Hanover, Onslow and Pender counties. 

The bureau wants a 71.4% increase for coastal areas of Brunswick, Carteret, New Hanover, Onslow  and Pender counties.

The lowest requested increase is for Haywood, Madison, Swain and Transylvania counties, in western North Carolina, where the bureau asked for a 4.3% increase. 

See a full table with the rate increase requests at the bottom of this article.

Public hearing

The Insurance Department is taking public comment on the rate increase proposal until Feb. 2.

People can submit written comments by mail or email. The department will also have a public comment forum and people can give comments either in-person or virtually Jan. 22.

Here’s how to comment on the proposed rate increases, according to the Insurance Department:

  • A public comment forum will be held to listen to public input on the North Carolina Rate Bureau’s rate increase request at the North Carolina Department of Insurance’s Jim Long Hearing Room on Jan. 22 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  The Jim Long Hearing Room is in the Albemarle Building, 325 N. Salisbury St., Raleigh, N.C. 27603.
  • A virtual public comment forum will be held simultaneously with the in-person forum on Jan. 22 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  The link to this virtual forum will be: https://ncgov.webex.com/ncgov/j.php?MTID=mb3fe10c8f69bbedd2aaece485915db7e
  • Emailed public comments should be sent by Feb. 2 to: 2024Homeowners@ncdoi.gov.
  • Written public comments must be received by Kimberly W. Pearce, Paralegal III, by Feb. 2 and addressed to 1201 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-1201.

When would the rate change?

The Rate Bureau asked the insurance commissioner to make the homeowners insurance rate increases effective Aug. 1.