Some seats were noticeably empty at what was supposed to be an informational session in Wrightsville Beach on insurance rate increases in our area. The Department of Insurance backed out of Friday's planned meeting, after Dare County filed a lawsuit against them for approving a rate increase without following proper procedures. The absence left area officials with plenty of questions. Marty Cooke, the Brunswick County Commissioner, said, “Why is it that we're the ones that are basically having to bear the brunt of this increase where as places like Mecklenburg County are being able to get a benefit of a reduction? And it would have been nice if the insurance commission were here today to at least be able to explain that to us.” The increase could be as much as 30 percent for some counties in our area. Wilmington Realtors Governmental Affairs Director Kathleen Riely organized the meeting for the coastal communities. “I think the DOI should have brought somebody down to represent them because it would have given people an opportunity to really see that they are aware of our voices and we should be heard.” Coastal homeowners are worried the increase could cost them their homes. Karen Chevrotee, a local homeowner, said, “If these rates keep increasing some of us might be in a position where we have to sell the house because we can no longer afford the insurances or the taxes that go along with owning property.” Local officials said it would be hard to accept another insurance rate increase in coastal areas because home owners have begun to take precautions like putting storm shutters on their windows to prevent damage. However, they're yet to see and insurance discounts for those efforts. Kure Beach Mayor Mac Montgomery said, “If I install $5,000 worth of storm shutters on a house I see no reduction in my insurance. And yet what I have done is reduce the potential of a claim against the insurance company.” The increase was scheduled to take effect may first, but for now it's on hold. Mayor Montgomery and Commissioner Cooke said they support the lawsuit, and urge other counties in our area to support the effort to prevent the increase. We'll continue to follow this story, and let you know what happens.
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