New Hanover County Commission Joins Plaintiffs Lawsuit Against Insurance Hike

Wednesday 21st January 2009

Submitted by WWAY on 21 January 2009 - 6:54pm.

New Hanover County is now part of the growing list of counties officially opposed to an insurance rate hike for homeowners.

On Tuesday, the County Commission voted to join the list of plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the State Department of Insurance.

As it stands now, insurance premiums for coastal homeowners will go up nearly 30 percent. That's why New Hanover County is joining more than a dozen other coastal counties, suing the state to keep that from happening.

The complaint has two basic claims.

One: that the insurance board didn't follow the right procedures to raise the premiums...especially by that much.

Two: that the rate hike isn't fair because it raises premiums for people who don't live right on the water.

And what's more, those folks who live in other parts of the state, like Raleigh and Charlotte, may also get storm damage, but aren't facing the rate hike that we are.

Kemp Burpeau, Deputy County Attorney, said, "That's one of the constitutional challenges is that until you can really document that there's a justification for the coastal counties to having the higher rates; it's not fair to impose that rate."

New Hanover County contributed $10,000 to the lawsuit. A law firm hired by Dare County is handling the suit for all the counties involved.

On a local level, the New Hanover County Attorney's Office will be reviewing filings and documents.

It will likely be a number of months before the case would go to trial. The insurance hike was expected to go in to affect May first. The lawsuit has put that on hold.