Raleigh, N.C. — News that homeowners insurance rates would go up in July prompted a protest on the Senate floor Wednesday from a coastal lawmaker.
Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, said the General Assembly needs to address the inequity in insurance rates faced by residents along the North Carolina coast.
Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin negotiated an average 7 percent increase with the North Carolina Rate Bureau, which represents insurance companies. The rate bureau had sought a 17.7 percent average increase.
Even with the lower statewide average, homes along the beach in Brunswick, Carteret, New Hanover, Onslow and Pender counties could be hit by a premium of as much 19.8 percent. Beach homes in Currituck, Dare and Hyde counties could see a 17 percent rate increase.
That compares with increases of less than 3 percent in Raleigh and about 8 percent in Charlotte.
Coastal residents have always paid higher homeowners insurance rates because of the higher risk of hurricane damage, but Brown said it's no longer fair, especially for senior citizens on fixed incomes.
"You can't live on the coast any longer. If you're a senior, you definitely can't live on the coast because you can't afford to pay your insurance," he said during a point of personal privilege at the end of Wednesday's session.
Brown hasn't yet introduced any legislation to address the matter.
"We've got a serious, serious problem. I don't know how to fix it. I wish I did," he said.