A few minutes ago, the House — by unanimous vote — gave its final approval to bipartisan landmark legislation that will help homeowners save on insurance premiums and give insurance companies a new way to handle major losses in the event of a hurricane. House Bill 182 also ensures greater transparency and fairness in the property insurance rate-making process.
HB182 comes as homeowners across the state have been facing insurance premium increases and the industry worries about repair and replacement costs and the threat of catastrophic weather-related losses.
From WRAL in Raleigh:
So-called “consent to rate” letters allow insurers to charge rates higher than the maximum allowed by the state Department of Insurance if they obtain a homeowner’s consent. The provision was put into state law decades ago for high-risk customers, but Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin has said his office has been deluged with complaints in recent years that insurers use the loophole as a way to bypass the rate-change process and levy exorbitant increases on ordinary customers.
Rep. Chris Millis, R-Pender, said the bill would give consumers 30 days to respond to a consent to rate letter, noting some insurers now require a response within 10 days. The measure also would require insurers to spell out what exactly a homeowner is consenting to and to disclose any changes in policy renewals.
“This approach to consent to rate provides an ample timeframe, proper disclosure for the individual to make an informed decision and the proper balance to prevent any unnecessary red tape upon those who are writing (insurance) for our policyholders,” Millis said.
The bill also would create a public bonding authority within the state’s Coastal Property Insurance Pool, more commonly known as the Beach Plan, to handle catastrophic losses.
HB182 is supported by both the North Carolina Association of Realtors and the North Carolina Homeowners Alliance, and it has been endorsed by Wayne Goodwin, Commissioner of the North Carolina Department of Insurance. The bill now goes to the Senate for its consideration.
For a detailed explanation of the various provisions of this important legislation, please read our previous article “Property Insurance Reform.”