County to discuss insurance rate hike

Feb. 02, 2014 @ 04:31 AM

A proposed resolution opposing a request to increase homeowners insurance rates will be a topic for discussion when the Rutherford County Commission meets for its February meeting.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday at the Rutherford County Annex (289 North Main Street, Rutherfordton).

According to the North Carolina Department of Insurance, the North Carolina Rate Bureau — the organization which represents companies writing homeowners insurance policies in the state — proposed a rate increase for homeowners insurance in January with an effective date of Aug. 1, 2014.

The filing with the Department of Insurance indicates an average hike of 25.3 percent. However, the region that includes Cleveland, Lincoln and Rutherford counties would experience an increase of 33.3 percent.

The request from the Rate Bureau ranges from a 2.7 percent decrease to 35 percent increase and includes revisions to the current geographic rating territories.

Additionally, the request came six months after new homeowner insurance rates went into effect.

"I am appalled that the insurance companies would request another increase just six months later," Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin said, in a statement. "I believe insurance companies should withdraw this filing immediately."

Commissioners will consider a resolution opposing the rate increases.

The resolution says "fire departments in Rutherford County have worked hard to improve the rates received by the Insurance Services Office (ISO), and the community's investment in fire mitigation is a proven and reliable predictor of future fire losses …"

In its filing with the Insurance Department, the Rate Bureau cited a need to offset any future losses, particularly with regards to the coastal regions of the state. The Bureau requested rate increases as high as 35 percent for coastal regions of Carrituck, Dare, Hyde, Brunswick, Carteret, New Hanover, Osnlow and Pender counties.

Metropolitan areas of Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro and Winston-Salem had proposed increases averaging 19 percent.

The last proposed increase went into effect July 1, 2013 and was the result of a compromise between the Insurance Department and the Rate Bureau.

Goodwin said he "will not entertain any settlement negotiations" for this latest proposed increase.

In other business, commissioners will:

• discuss a building reuse and renovation grant application;

• discuss a Local Industrial Incentive Grant;

• review a revised System Safety Program Plan for the Transit Department;

• receive an update on the Revenue Department;

• receive an update on the Rutherford County Animal Code;

• discuss legislative goals;

• receive an update on the southeastern EMS station;

• discuss revised Commission Rules of Procedure;

• receive an update on Solid Waste Code;

• discuss an infrastructure development and expansion proposal.