Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina’

Technology Causes Homeowners Insurance Rate Hikes in NC

March 23rd, 2012 by | Comments Off | Filed in fire insurance, homeowners insurance

Some homeowners in North Carolina will see their homeowner’s insurance get more expensive this year because of a change in fire ratings, but according to insurance company officials, the rate hikes aren’t because of public policy, but because of GPS technology.

How does GPS affect insurance rates? Well, when insurers calculate premiums, one of the factors they consider is the distance to the nearest fire station. Traditionally, that determination has been made using maps, but recently, maps have been eschewed, in favor of more accurate measuring systems.

Because of this, some policies that were originally based on property being within a specific rating area (typically five miles away from a fire department for the best pricing) are now being rewritten because those properties are found to be outside the premium pricing area. Since more distance means that it takes longer for the fire department to arrive, insurance companies perceive a greater risk and charge more.

What can North Carolina homeowners do? They can petition the state insurance department, or they can speak to their insurance agent, but unless the state disallows the use of GPS, rates are likely to continue to change based on new numbers.

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NC Residents Advised to Evacuate

June 27th, 2011 by | Comments Off | Filed in fire insurance, homeowners insurance

On Friday, North Carolina residents with homes near the Pender and Onslow county line have been advised to participate in a voluntary evacuation to avoid a spreading wildfire, which, as of Thursday, had burned about 20,000 acres.

Fire officials said that the wildfire began over the weekend of June 18th, in the Holly Shelter Game Land in Pender County, and was probably sparked by a strike of lightning.

The evacuation advisory applies to the residents of roughly forty homes in the area north of Holly Ridge and along the west side of U.S. 17 heading into Pender County. There are emergency shelters open at both Southwest Middle and Topsail Elementary Schools.

Those who are evacuating should be cautious that some roads have been closed because of limited visibility and smoke, while everyone should be warned that the area has poor air quality because of smoke, and those with lung problems should avoid any exertion while out-of doors.

If you must evacuate, be sure to bring vital documents, including a copy of your fire insurance policy.

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North Carolina Still Lacks Employee Health Plan Decision

April 26th, 2011 by | Comments Off | Filed in health care reform, health insurance

The state legislature in North Carolina went home for the weekend last Thursday without coming to an agreement on the cost of health insurance for state employees, teachers, or retired persons. At that point they were already outside the deadline that had been given.

Earlier last week, Governor Beverly Perdue vetoed a proposal that would require all active employees to pay a monthly premium for their own health insurance for the first time in state history. As a result, a new insurance bill is required.

Last Wednesday, the North Carolina House approved a measure to retain an insurance option for those workers that did not include a monthly premium, but Republicans in the state Senate didn’t like the fact that it would cost roughly $16 million in state funding over two years. The vetoed plan had been designed to close a $515 million likely shortfall between expenses and revenues through mid-2013.

Speaking about the issue, Senator Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson) said, “It just wasn’t acceptable to our caucus at this point, so there’s no reason to stay around.” Apocada was the chief sponsor of the bill that Governor Perdue vetoed.
Apocada added that there have been several new options presented, including one that gives retirees also covered by Medicare an option without premiums, but that there hadn’t been enough time to negotiate with the House.

Jack Walker, Executive Administrator of the North Carolina State Health Plan told legislative leaders that he would be moving ahead with July 1 enrollment plans based on the cost of premiums as of last Thursday afternoon. House Speaker Thom Tillis (R – Mecklenburg) explained that the delay will probably mean a second enrollment period once new premiums have been determined.

Last week, Governor Perdue explained that the biggest factor that went into her decision to veto the bill was that teachers – and specifically the North Carolina Association of Educators – were not involved in the original negotiations.

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North Carolina Beach Plan to Reclaim $16 Million Distribution

January 31st, 2011 by | Comments Off | Filed in hurricane insurance, insurance news, wind insurance

Wayne Goodwin, the North Carolina Insurance Commissioner recently announced a settlement agreement that will require the North Carolina Insurance Underwriting Association, also known as the “Beach Plan,” to reverse the payments of more than $16 million it made to its member companies in 2009.

The Beach Plan is North Carolina’s “insurer of last resort” for coastal policyholders who cannot find coverage elsewhere. Most of them purchase coverage for damage from hail and windstorms. Under the previous operating guidelines for the Beach Plan any surplus premiums have been allowed to be returned to the member companies. However, in 2009, the North Carolina legislature passed a law stipulating that the Beach Plan’s surplus funds must actually be retained from year-to-year, and be used to cover reinsurance costs, losses, and other expenses. The change in the law was a response to hundreds of thousands of coastal homeowners seeing their insurance premiums increase by an average of up to thirty percent.

Commissioner Goodwin ordered that an examination be conducted by the Insurance Department’s Financial Evaluation Division, which found that in December, 2009 the Beach Plan had distributed about $16.4 million to its member companies, which put it out of compliance with state law, which had taken effect on August 26th of that year. After negotiating with the Beach Plan officials, it was agreed that no wrongdoing would be admitted, but that the funds would be returned.

Goodwin told the press, “I am pleased that we came to an agreement that this money will be returned to the Beach Plan where it can help protect coastal property owners.”

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NC Drivers Pay $1350/Year Due to Road Conditions

March 29th, 2010 by admin | Comments Off | Filed in auto insurance, insurance news

Here’s another reason to save money on auto insurance in North Carolina: the road conditions will cost you the equivalent of an extra tank of gas every week.

Last week, a national transportation group released the results of a study which estimated that drivers in the two largest urban areas in North Carolina lose an average of $1,350/year due to pot holes, perilous roadways, and longer-than-usual waits in traffic, car repairs and “accidents where roadway design likely contributed to a wreck.”

The study was completed by a nonprofit group called TRIP, based in Washington, and was based primarily on federal highway and traffic safety statistics. Some of the state “transportation boosters” are hoping the results will spur the North Carolina legislature to approve new fund raising methods for road construction. Several years ago, the state had an estimated $65 billion funding gap through the year 2030, between projected transportation needs and available sources of funds.

Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP explained, “North Carolina is falling behind in maintaining its major roads, bridges and highways and the state lacks adequate funding with numerous projects that would greatly enhance economic development in the state.”

North Carolina did receive $838 million in federal stimulus funds for ready-to-build roads and bridges, but that is merely a short-term solution for a state with a population that is expected to increase by a third to 12 million people, and vehicle travel is expected to increase by 45 percent over the next twenty years.

At a news conference in Raleigh, North Carolina Transportation Secretary Gene Conti agreed with TRIP’s findings, saying, “The bottom line is our needs are growing in North Carolina. Our revenue stream is not. We need to continue to work hard and do more with less, but I don’t think at the end of the day that’s going to get the job done.”

TRIP’s findings said that in Charlotte, costs above “normal” driving and maintenance averaged $1,351/year, with a similar average of $1,350/year in Raleigh-Durham. Drivers in Winston-Salem and Greensboro still pay more than average, about $900/year. This number is less because those cities are less congested. Throughout the state, deteriorating and congested roads, and those which lack improved safety features result in a cost of $5.7 billion to North Carolina drivers. The state ranks fourth-lowest in the country for per-mile capital spending on its roadways, and has the second-largest state-maintained highway system. Wilkins discouraged the calculation of a statewide driver average because only the three metro areas had available congestion statistics.

There are more than six million drivers in North Carolina.

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