If you own a home in our area, your homeowners insurance is about to go up. Depending on where you live, the increase could be significant. Insurance rates across the state are determined based on an area's degree of “risk”. Those of us who live along the coast are considered at high risk. Homeowner Steven Dutton said, "Whatever they charge, tough luck, you've got to pay or else you've got to move." Steven owns two homes in New Hanover County. The insurance rates on both of his properties are about to go up. For him, it's double or nothing. “The frustration for me comes in that you literally have a gun to your head saying, you have to pay this, because you've got to have the coverage." Here is how insurance will increase: Our area is split up into three territories. The area in blue is Columbus and Bladen counties. The red is New Hanover, Brunswick, Onslow and Pender. The yellow is the parts of the counties that touch the coastline. The area in blue is looking at a 12 percent increase, the red about 29.8, and the yellow will see 17.5. Kim Guyton of Oleander Insurance said, "We live on the coast so we are at a higher risk of hurricanes and things of that nature. So it's going to be higher than if you lived inland." The North Carolina Department of Insurance has the jurisdiction to determine what areas are at a higher risk than others. Problem is, hiking the rates now may put people in a bind. "Any cost of living increase in any economic conditions is painful," said Dutton. Dutton said right now, homeowner insurance is a must, whether he likes to pay for it or not. But it paves the road for other companies to step in and challenge these rates. "A solution to this would be, to create an environment that encourages competition," Dutton added. It is important to point out these rate increases are separate from the beach plan you may have heard about. The beach plan refers to just wind and hail insurance, as opposed to general homeowner’s coverage and effects coastal counties. The beach plan rate hike is currently on hold.
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