RALEIGH, NC (WWAY) -- Homeowners and leaders sounded off today about the insurance industry's request to raise homeowners rates again across North Carolina.
Calabash, like other coastal communities, could see homeowners insurance rates increase by 35 percent later this year if insurers get their way.
For a community made up of mostly seniors, Mayor Mary Knight says living is simply becoming unaffordable, especially with many residents already fighting the rise of medical costs.
"With the rising cost of medication, physician care and the small necessities of life; for a 35 percent increase to come along, virtually overnight is just not something we can accept," Knight told a public comment session today in Raleigh.
Carolina Shores Mayor Walt Goodenough echoes the same message and thinks this could have a ripple effect.
"I am betting a lot of them, if a rate like this goes through, will start dropping their homeowners policies, which will create another problem," Goodenough said.
One Carteret County realtor says increases will also affect North Carolina's tourism industry.
"As my costs go up, I've got to raise the rent," Mark Mansfield said. "I mean, it really erodes away at the middle class."
To ensure beachfront properties do not erode away, leaders say it costs thousands of dollars more to build these homes up to code.
"We are making it better for them to have to not pay out claims, but they're still charging us more money," Mansfield said.
"I have no idea what they are looking to do," Goodenough said. "The standards are getting out of hand."
Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin also thinks this is getting out of hand and has vowed to fight the rate changes. If the NC Rate Bureau, which represents insurers, and the Department of Insurance cannot reach an agreement, a public hearing will be held.
While many people in our area would see their rates go up 35 percent, others in parts of Wilmington, Leland, Burgaw and other communities would see a nearly three-percent drop under the plan.
Insurers say they need the average 25-percent statewide hike because of higher claims recently from tornadoes and storms.