Members of the REBIC Board of Governors and Charlotte Regional REALTOR® Association Board of Directors recently had the opportunity to meet with North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, who came to town to discuss his efforts to reform the property insurance rate making process and hear from local builders about their frustration with how the state building code was being implemented in Mecklenburg County.
The Commissioner also announced plans the Department of Insurance has to open a new regional office in Charlotte early next month. The office will be located at 301 South McDowell Street, on the 7th floor, and an Open House is planned for sometime in October.As Insurance Commissioner, Goodwin oversees implementation of the North Carolina Building Code and serves as the state Fire Marshall. In regulating insurance companies, he described the balance his department must perform to ensure rates are set reasonably for consumers, while allowing insurance companies to earn acceptable profits in North Carolina and remain solvent.
In 2014, the Department of Insurance entered negotiations with insurance providers over their request for a 25 percent hike in homeowner’s insurance rates. Goodwin rejected the request, which came on the heels of a 7% increase approved by the department just one year earlier. With a court hearing on the matter still pending, Goodwin said many insurance companies have since resorted to issuing ‘Consent to Rate’ letters to secure homeowners’ approval to charge rates higher than those approved by the state.
To address this and other issues related to property insurance, Goodwin worked this year with state legislators and the North Carolina Association of Realtors® to introduce legislation that would enact cost-saving reforms to the homeowners insurance rate-making process.
HB 151, ‘Property Insurance Ratemaking Reform,’ passed the House in March, but stalled in the Senate. It would reform the way insurers calculate rates and require the use of in-state, historical data in modeling software. Goodwin said he hopes the Senate will take up and pass the bill in the 2016 Short Session, if it doesn’t make it across the finish line this year.
The Commissioner also discussed issues that local builders and general contractors are dealing with in Mecklenburg County regarding code interpretations. Under a policy now in effect, when the Department of Insurance issues an interpretation of an existing code section, County building code officials begin to enforce the new regulation immediately. This has caused significant confusion in the field, resulting in delays and increased costs for builders. Goodwin said he would support a ‘phase-in’ period for any code interpretations issued by the state, and committed to work with REBIC and other industry groups in the coming months on a solution.
REBIC appreciates the time Commissioner Goodwin took to meet with our members and discuss these critical issues, and are grateful for all he and his Department do for the people of North Carolina!