Prepare your homeowners’ policy for N.C. insurance changes
North Carolina’s insurance commissioner has begun hearings to decide whether homeowners in the state will see the cost of their insurance coverage increase in 2015.
Insurance carriers could increase rates by as much as 35 percent in cities and counties across the state if Commissioner Wayne Goodwin approves the request. In Charlotte, rates would go up an average of 15 percent.
Regardless of Goodwin’s decision, the hearings offer a reminder to homeowners: Pay attention to your insurance coverage.
Joe Keener, of highly rated Pruitt-Keener Insurance in Charlotte, says now is a good time to ask some important questions about your homeowner’s policy.
Are you covering what you need?
“When we sit down with a customer, one of the first things we look at is what is covered and what is not,” Keener says.
Specifically, Keener says, homeowners should see whether their policy covers all the perils that can happen to a home, or just named perils.
Also, check to see how the policy pays out for damage. Does it pay tax or appraisal value, or does it pay out according to the true cost of your home today?
“In a total loss, you don’t want to be in a situation where you can’t rebuild it,” Keener says.
What are you paying?
As with any insurance, consumers should check the deductibles on their homeowner’s policy. Some policies have more than one deductible, depending on the different perils that are covered.
The best way to know you’re paying for what you need? See an area insurance agent, who can review your dwelling coverage, make sure you’re sufficiently protected, and advise on the right level of deductibles.
“A lot of consumers don’t understand the difference in what you would get between policies,” Keener says.
Are you ready to pay more?
Even if insurance companies don’t get the full rate increase they’ve requested, higher rates are on the way in North Carolina. “I don’t see an end to the rate increases,” Keener says.
North Carolina law requires that insurance carriers have rate increases approved by the Insurance Commission’s Rate Bureau. Carriers have found a way around that authority, however, by insisting that homeowners sign a “consent-to-rate” form that says they’re agreeing to pay more than the Rate Bureau agreement.
“They can’t do that without the policy holder’s consent,” Keener says, “but they can refuse to renew the policy if you don’t sign.”
Meanwhile, here are a few tips for lowering your premium.