EASTERN CAROLINA - A new homeowner's insurance hike was approved for the state Tuesday, one that will cause some Eastern Carolina residents to pay almost 20 percent more.
Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin signed a settlement agreement allowing a 7 percent average rate hike across the state, starting in July.
But homeowners in some local counties will see a much steeper increase. According to the North Carolina Department of Insurance, those in Carteret and Onslow Counties will have to pay 19.8 percent more for their homeowner's insurance. For people in Hyde County, the increase will be 17 percent.
Bertie, Duplin, Lenoir, Martin and Pitt Counties will see an increase of 7.4 percent. Meanwhile, rates in coastal communities in Hyde and Pamlico Counties will be up 3.4 percent. Beaufort, Craven, Jones, Tyrrell and Washington County homeowners will see the lowest increase, at 1 percent.
The numbers are based on a home valued at $150,000.
Harry Archer, the mayor pro tem of Atlantic Beach, told NewsChannel 12 he is not happy with the new insurance rate hike.
"I personally am oppose to it," said Archer, who has lived at West Boardwalk Blvd. for 40 years. "It appears that every time the insurance companies want to increase, they always use the coastal communities as a wiping post."
Another Atlantic Beach resident, Genia Lanier, said she owned her home for 53 years and is opposed to the new hike as well.
"I think it's a terrible idea," Lanier said. "I don't think we should be taxed like this just because we live here on the beach when we've had much less damage than places in other areas."
But the 7 percent average statewide increase is considerably less than the nearly 18 percent increase the North Carolina Rate Bureau had requested in October. The difference between the requested and settled rates amounts to $237 million in savings to policyholders, officials said.
"Homeowners insurance is a very complex issue. We face a great challenge in making sure that it is not only affordable, but available, to consumers across the state," said Goodwin. "I feel this settlement helps strike that balance, and I am pleased that the increase will be significantly smaller than what insurers originally requested."
According to the Department of Insurance, increasing insurance rates is necessary because of the rising cost of reinsurance related to hurricane risks and ongoing concerns regarding availability.
The last homeowner's insurance rate increase took effect in 2009. The insurance companies had sought a nearly 20 percent statewide average increase then, but settled for 4 percent.