Insurers in North Carolina submitted a rate filing for a statewide average increase in homeowners rates of 25.3%, a request that drew an angry response from the state’s insurance commissioner.
The request, submitted Jan. 3 by the North Carolina Rate Bureau (NCRB) on behalf of insurers in the state, seeks rate changes that range from -2.7% to +35%, the Department of Insurance says.
Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin issued a statement criticizing the request. He says, “New homeowners insurance rates went into effect in July 2013. I am appalled that the insurance companies would request another increase just six months later.”
But according to NCRB General Manager Ray Evans, the request is due in part to the new rates that went into effect in July. Evans says the NCRB proposed a rate increase of just under 30% in its last filing, but settled for “a little less than 7%.” The difference in what was asked for and what was approved makes up “the bulk of the change we’re requesting,” he notes.
Evans also says the experience period for this request is the five years up to and including 2011, and he notes that 2010 and 2011 were particularly bad years for the state’s insurers. The experience period lags some, Evans explains, because it takes a little over a year to accumulate the relevant data.
Evans further says that the NCRB’s larger rate-increase requests stem from the infrequency of filings. The current request—which would go into effect in August—on the heels of the last rate approval signals an effort to get on a schedule of annual filings, Evans says. Typically there is a three or four year interval in between filings and “what might be a 2% increase for one year” turns into an 8% or 10% increase covering several years, he adds. Evans says the current filing is just the fifth since 2000.
Goodwin, though, wasted little time making his thoughts known. In his statement, he says, “I believe the insurance companies should withdraw this rate filing immediately. If they do not, the insurance companies should expect a full hearing on this matter; I will not entertain any settlement negotiations.”
For his part, Evans says the NCRB is prepared for a full hearing, and constructs its filings in a way that anticipates a hearing.
Goodwin also criticized the timing of NCRB’s filing. He says, “Also, I take offense at the insurance companies’ concerted efforts to file this request late on a Friday afternoon, when they think the public won’t be paying attention.”