The North Carolina Rate Bureau, which represents homeowners insurance companies, has asked the state insurance department to approve an average 18.7 percent increase next year.
Any decision on that request is a long way off, said Department of Insurance Spokesman Barry Smith. The department will accept public comment at a forum on Dec. 12 and by mail and email until December 29.
"After we receive public comments, our office will be in negotiations with the rate bureau to try and work out a negotiated settlement," Smith said. "If we're not able to negotiate an agreement then there would likely be a public hearing to be held middle of next year, maybe, not sure of the date, that date would be set sometime around the first of the year."
The last homeowner insurance rate increase approved by the insurance department was a seven percent hike in 2012, which was negotiated down from an initial request of more than 17 percent. The rate bureau last asked for an increase in 2014. That request resulted in the first homeowners insurance hearing in 20 years. DOI ultimately did not approve any change.
Smith says it is important to remember the rate bureau's requested hike is an average figure.
"It is an average 18.7 percent increase," Smith said. "Some are higher, some are lower. As you may expect, it looks like some of the coastal areas more prone to bad weather, hurricane damage, that sort of thing, generally speaking, they are higher."
However, some areas in the far western part of the state could see a decrease.