North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey said Tuesday that he wants to “clear up any confusion” regarding a recent deal reached with the North Carolina Rate Bureau (NCRB) on insurance rate filings.

On May 30, he said that his office reached an agreement with the NCRB over their proposed 50% dwelling rate increase filed in July of 2023. The NCDOI’s settlement is for an 8% increase; 42% below the NCRB’s request. The deal means that a July 22 hearing on the dispute has been canceled.

“In July of 2023, the North Carolina Rate Bureau requested a 50.6% combined statewide increase for dwelling insurance rates,” he said in the press release on Tuesday. “Since that time, my office has carefully reviewed that request through actuarial and legal experts. I ultimately recommended a combined 8% statewide increase, which the Rate Bureau agreed to in a settlement. This saved North Carolina consumers $151.7 million per year compared to what the Rate Bureau requested, and allows North Carolina’s insurance market to remain stable and solvent.”

Dwelling insurance is different from homeowners’ insurance. Dwelling policies are primarily offered to non-owner-occupied residences of no more than four units, including rental properties, investment properties, and other properties that are not the property owner’s primary residence.  

“During the past 20 years, there have been eight dwelling and fire rate filings,” Causey continued. “Only one went to a hearing. Settling and not going to court saves consumers and taxpayers money. Hearings are the exception when negotiations fail.”

Causey said that every property rate filing his department receives from NCRB requires a public comment period, which isn’t the same as a “costly public hearing.” However, not everybody is on board with his decision not to hold a hearing to discuss insurance rates.

Some, including his 2024 Democratic opponent for NC insurance commissioner, State Sen. Natasha Marcus, D-Mecklenburg, are critical of the process.

Earlier this year, the North Carolina Rate Bureau requested a rate increase of 42.2% in homeowners’ insurance rates effective Aug. 1. A few weeks later, property owners filled a public comment opposing the NCRB’s request. The hearing was both online and in person at the NC Department of Insurance.

As expected, no one was in favor of that increase, which could see rates in coastal areas, like Swansboro in Onslow County, jump by as much as 71.4% and even 99% spikes in places like Emerald Isle.

Causey rejected the hike in February and set an Oct. 7 court hearing.

He said NCDOI continues to review the data provided by NCRB regarding the homeowners’ filing and may request more data to ensure consumers are paying a fair rate while also ensuring a solvent insurance market.

“As the Insurance Commissioner, it is my job to protect consumers by keeping rates as low as possible and maintaining a solvent insurance market,” he said.