Insurance companies asked for a nearly 20 percent increase across the state. They settled for a slight four percent hike. Forty-three counties will actually get rate cuts, but in our hurricane prone area, that's not the case. Homeowners in Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender County will see nearly a thirty percent increase. Bladen and Columbus rates will go up twelve percent. Wrightsville Beach homeowner Mike Searson said he'd rather the increase than the alternative. “I'd much rather have a competitive market place, which is what you don't have when the state becomes the insurer.” Homeowners south and east of the Intracostal Waterway will be hit hardest by the rate increase but they won't be the only ones affected. And it seems everyone agrees that the timing for the rate increase is poor. Ryan Roberts, a Leland homeowner said, “Timing is really bad you know this time of year the way the economy is going, and to come across with a rate increase it's going to be really hard for a lot of people on fixed incomes.” North Carolina insurance commissioner Jim Long said "I feel that we've reached a settlement that is fair to both consumers and insurance companies in North Carolina." Leland homeowner Randy Roberts doesn't understand why his rates should go up at all since he's not on the coast. “This neighborhood has been here for 45 years and we've been through all the hurricanes all the damage we got is just some shingles.” There's still a question of how the rates will be divided among inland and coastal areas - and whether or not inland homeowners will see the same increase as those on the beach. The rate increase will be the third in four years for coastal North Carolina. Rates rose fifteen percent in 2005 and twenty-five percent in 2007.
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