|By David Ranii, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
A parade of people from
They decried the rate increase 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 increase 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 increase 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 increase by citing more claims, higher costs per claim, 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 increase 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.
"The modeling used ... is highly suspect," said
Several coastal municipalities have passed resolutions opposing the rate increase, and those 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
Goodwin didn't preside over Wednesday's hearing in order to remain impartial on the rate request, as required by law. But
Last week, Goodwin appeared at a candidates' forum hosted by his association, and, Candler said, told those in attendance, "and I quote, 'I will not allow any increase in homeowner rates if I'm in office.'?"
But Goodwin, speaking through an
What Goodwin actually said, spokeswoman
Schribman added that Goodwin "covered multiple topics quickly, so he understands how his comments might have been misconstrued. However, legally, he could never make a statement such as 'there will never be any homeowners rate increases' because it would open him (and the
For the record, since Goodwin took office in 2009, the insurance industry hasn't sought an increase in homeowners rates -- until now.
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