|By David Ranii, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
They're mad as heck and they don't want to take it anymore.
A parade of people from
They decried the rate hike sought by the insurance industry as excessive, unwarranted and unfair, given that the rates in 18 coastal counties would rise far more than in the rest of the state if the industry's request is approved. Moreover, the last time a rate hike was approved in
"We don't understand why you keep doing this to us and we would like for it to stop," testified
Others raised the specter of elderly residents being forced to sell their homes, or being foreclosed upon, if the rate hike is approved.
Auditors at the state
"In those seven years, I have never lost one shingle," she said. "Please reject the rate. Please consider lowering it."
Many homeowners are hit with annual premium increases even in years when the state-approved rate hasn't changed because their insurers have reduced or eliminated discounts, or because they have "replacement cost" policies that permit increases to keep pace with construction costs. About 2 million residences are covered by homeowners policies in
The industry justifies its request for a rate hike by citing more claims, higher costs per claims, higher costs for the reinsurance they buy to insulate them from catastrophic losses and, along the coast, potential losses should a severe hurricane strike.
None of the more than 30 speakers at Wednesday's hearing -- none of whom spoke on the industry's behalf -- were buying those arguments.
"We haven't had a serious storm in
Outten said the rate hike for the owner of an average
Several critics of the rate request blasted the computer models the industry uses to calculate future risks from hurricanes.
Tom Thompson, chairman of
Several coastal municipalities have passed resolutions opposing the rate hike that were presented.
"Homeowners in coastal communities already pay premiums at two to three times the rate charged for inland properties, in addition to having separate wind and hail policies," notes the resolution passed by the