Boseman's bill aims to sidetrack rising cost of insurance

By Wayne Faulkner
Business Editor
Published: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 6:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 6:25 p.m.
Sen. Julia Boseman will introduce a bill in the N.C. General Assembly Wednesday that would put a temporary stay on increases in deductibles and rates on homeowners and wind and hail insurance covered by the Beach Plan.

The stay would be to May 1, 2011, Boseman, D-New Hanover, said Tuesday.“We have to do what we can do in tough economic times to keep insurance affordable,” she said, adding that the increases are “completely unreasonable.”In November, the N.C. Department of Insurance approved a 100 percent increase in the deductible on wind and hail insurance claims under the Beach Plan, a last-resort insurer of properties in North Carolina’s coastal counties. The new deductibles will be 2 percent of the insured value of a home for each occurrence, up from 1 percent. On Bald Head Island, the deductible is set to rise to 5 percent.The Beach Plan, an industry-controlled group formally known as the N.C. Insurance Underwriters Association, insures about 30 percent of coastal residents for wind and hail, according to the Insurance Department. Some homes on the barrier islands get their homeowners insurance as well under the Beach Plan.The new Beach Plan rates include increases to 15 percent from 5 percent on the surcharge insurers can charge on wind and hail insurance. It also raised the surcharge on homeowner insurance rates under the Beach Plan to 25 percent from 15 percent.More than 4,000 homes in New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties get homeowner insurance under the Beach Plan, according to the Insurance Department, while wind and hail policies total 52,628 in the three counties.Those increases have drawn lawsuits led by Dare County and Nags Head. New Hanover County commissioners voted last week to join that suit, and other area governments are trying to decide whether they will go along as well.The same coalition has also filed suit to halt the separate, nearly 30 percent increase in homeowners insurance bought in the private market that is scheduled to go into effect May 1.Wilmington area home builders and Realtors have been lobbying heavily against insurance increases that they say are unfair to coastal residents and come at a bad time for the economy, with the housing market in a deep slump.Wayne Faulkner:

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