At OBAR forum, concerns about property insurance rates

By on November 5, 2023

Willo Kelly, host for the conversation and CEO of the Outer Banks Association of Realtors. (Photo credit: Kip Tabb/OBV)

With many Outer Banks homeowners confronting a significant increase in their insurance premiums this year, the Outer Banks Association of Realtors (OBAR) hosted a meeting on property insurance on Thursday night, Nov. 2 at the Dare County Board of Commissioners meeting room on Roanoke Island to help provide some answers.

Soaring insurance rates are not a new phenomenon for coastal communities, OBAR CEO Willo Kelly told the audience, but the 10 percent 2023 statewide average rate increase seems to have caused more worry than in the past.

“Here’s what we’re hearing locally,” she said. “’Am I going to be forced out of my home because of the cost of property insurance? Am I going to not be able to sell my house because of the cost of property insurance?’”

Kelly traced the history of the coastal homeowner’s current insurance issues back to 2008, when “The Outer Banks, Currituck, Dare County, inland counties were facing a double digit increase for property insurance” for the third time in six years.

Since that time, there have been important changes to the insurance market for coastal counties. The most significant change was the 2009 Essential Property Insurance for Beach Area Property Act that created the nonprofit organization, the North Carolina Insurance Underwriting Association (NCIUA).

NCIUA acts “as a market of last resort to provide adequate essential property insurance to property owners having insurable property in the Beach and Coastal Areas of North Carolina,” according to the organization’s website.

A last resort insurance was available to homeowners prior to 2009—the Beach Plan. Established in 1969, it was a bare-bones insurance plan administered by for-profit insurance companies. As Kelly explained, insurance companies were dropping policy coverage for homeowners en masse, forcing them into the Beach Plan where premiums were higher, but less coverage was offered.

“There was one carrier that dropped 30,000 policyholders. All the policyholders were forced into the Beach Plan,” she said.

Gina Hardy, CEO of the NCIUA was quick to point out that although the association was created by the legislature, it is not a state agency. But it is required to use insurance rates established by the state’s insurance commissioner.  It is the increase in the rates, though, that is creating the concerns of coastal property owners.

The evening also included a presentation from Joann Biliouris, General Manager of the North Carolina Rate Bureau, which is responsible for proposing rates on behalf of all the insurance companies in the state.

The Rate Bureau recommends rates for all forms of insurance in the state, but specifically uses data provided by the 696 insurance companies issuing property insurance in the state to establish average increases in homeowner’s insurance.

The rates the Rate Bureau recommends are almost always significantly higher than the rates ultimately allowed by the North Carolian Department of Insurance. In 2022 the Rate Bureau asked for a 42.6 per cent increase. The actual average increase approved by Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey was 9.9 percent.

The Rate bureau has asked for a 50.6 percent increase this year, but that increase is currently under discussion with the North Carolina Department of Insurance. The final decision on the 2023 Rate Bureau request will be the 2024 average property insurance rate.

The rate the NCIUA charges is based on the state insurance rate with a mandated surcharge—generally around 5%.

A complicating factor in how homeowner insurance is calculated is that insurance companies do not have the reserves to cover a truly catastrophic event. As an example, Hurricane Florence in 2018 was the most expensive hurricane to date in North Carolina and according to Hardy, the NCIUA “paid out $1.7 billion in 2018.”

To cover those expenses, insurance companies turn to an international reinsurance market, and as catastrophes become more expensive, the cost of buying reinsurance has been rising.

“Last year in 2022 the reinsurance market suffered about $115 billion worth of losses. So what we are facing and what the private market is facing is increasing reinsurance cost,” Hardy said.

The almost $1.3 billion surplus the NCIUA has managed to amass means the organization needs less reinsurance and is in a better position to negotiate terms with reinsurance companies.

The NCIUA says it is looking at other ways to reduce insurance costs. In particular, the association reviewed research demonstrating conclusively that most of the damage that homes suffer during hurricanes is roof damage. Referring to research the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) had done on how important a well-designed roof is, Hardy discussed her organization’s Stronger Roof program that offers policy holders a $8,000 grant for installing the roof.

The stronger roof is an IBHS Fortified Roof that meets standard of materials, installation and how it is attached to the house. An inspection of the installation is also required.

Joseph Lee, Vice President of ACC Roofing, who was in the audience, was asked about how well the roof performs.

“They definitely hold up much better than a standard roof,” he said. “The key thing is the roof decking attachment and the sealed deck system [and] the roof covering itself.” He also told the audience his company had installed more than 500 Fortified Roofs to date.


Barnhill Contracting Company will receive sealed proposals for Manns Harbor – EMS/Fire Facility (EMS-8), Kitty Hawk – EMS/Fire Facility (EMS-9), Manteo – Youth Center on January 09, 2024. Times to be given on via addendum #01. See the following SCOPE OF WORK: BP 100 – General Trades, BP 105 – Final Cleaning, BP 205 – Demolition, BP 390 – Turnkey Concrete, BP 400 – Turnkey Masonry, BP 500 – Turnkey Structural Steel & Misc. Steel, BP 505 – Light Gauge Metal Trusses, BP 740 – Roofing, BP750 – Siding, BP 790 – Caulking/Sealants, BP 800 – Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware/Toilet Specialties/Accessories/Division 10, BP 840 – Curtainwall/Storefront/Glass/Glazing, BP 925 – Drywall/Framing, BP 960 – Resilient Flooring/Carpet/Base/Epoxy, BP 980 – Acoustical Ceilings, BP 990 – Painting and Wall Coverings, BP 1230 – Finish Carpentry and Casework, BP 1250 – Window Treatments, BP 2100 – Fire Protection, BP 2200 – Plumbing, BP 2300 – HVAC, BP 2600 – Electrical, BP 3100 – Earthwork/Turnkey Site, BP 3213- Site Concrete, BP 3290 – Landscaping. Scopes of work may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager.

Bid Location and Time: Bid opening will be held in the Barnhill Contracting Rocky Mount Training & GPS Technology Room: 800 Tiffany Bvld, Rocky Mount, NC 27804. Time is as follows: January 09, 2024 at 10:00am and 2:00pm. Times per packages to be given on via addendum #01.

Barnhill Contracting Company will receive, open, and read publicly all bids received in person in the Training & GPS Technology Room at the main office and listed with the virtual viewing at the link to be posted on Barnhill’s Plan Room.

Bids will not be accepted from bidders that are not pre-qualified. No facsimile or email submissions are permitted. Sealed bids are to be hand delivered to the bid opening location noted above or mailed Sealed Bids can be delivered before 9:00am the day of the bid to the Barnhill Contracting Company Office at 800 Tiffany Blvd., Suite 200 Rocky Mount, NC 27804. Attention “Clint Hardison.”

The pre-bid meeting will be held in Person & Zoom Meeting on December 06, 2023 at 10:00 am at the Barnhill Contracting’s Rocky Mount Main Conference Room: 800 Tiffany Bvld, Rocky Mount, NC 27804.

The pre-bid meeting link can be located on Barnhill’s online Building Division Plan Room ( and below. A preferred brand alternates meeting will be held via the same link at the end of the Prebid meeting.

Bid Documents can be viewed or downloaded through Barnhill’s online Building Division Plan Room ( after 12/04/2023.

All Bidders are strongly encouraged to include opportunities for HUB participation wherever possible in their respective Bid submission.  HUB participation is a part of this contract and must comply with all requirements set forth in the Bid Documents.

The Construction Manager and Owner reserve the right to add pre-qualified bidders. The Construction Manager and Owner reserve the right to reject any and all bids. Should you require additional direction, please call Barnhill Contracting Company, (Clint Hardison – 252-802-0740).

Clint Hardison is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Dare EMS – Phase 2 Pre-Bid Conference

Time: Dec 6, 2023 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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  • Currituck

    Coastal living, as with home ownership anywhere, has costs that reach well beyond the purchase price of a home. Upkeep, taxes and insurance can be a shock if you decide to ignore them when selecting a homes location or size. Side note, what you spend on insurance, in all its forms, is assuredly the greatest expense in retirement and near the top during your working life. If you had not noted this you are not paying attention.

    I am not sure what others states do but NC regulates the insurance industry. But just as insurance mitigates risk, regulation comes at a cost too. It limits market competition, access to cheaper providers and demands the coverage offered meet certain criteria. All of which drives up costs. Deregulation is a good place to start to lower the expense of insurance but you would have to take responsibility in knowing the ability and track record of follow through of these new insurers.

    Life has risks and your ability or willingness to shoulder the expense of the unexpected can translate to savings when it comes to insurance. Higher deductibles, SHOPPING for carriers and not insuring everything you buy will bring costs down.

    Never let a provider of any service tell you what you need. Get educated and take responsibility for the outcome. If you insist on having a guarantee in life… a toaster.


    Monday, Nov 6 @ 7:10 am
  • surf123

    The resulting discount on the new roof is $100 or so per year so you really have to think about replacing your roof unless it needs it. I am familiar with several who have benefitted from this and they had to put out another $3000 to have the roof done, which works out to 30 years of discounts (approximately). Of course if it keeps your roof on it could be worth it or if you needed a new roof it is definitely worth it. One must ask where the giant pot of $8,000 grants is coming from. Are reserves being eaten into? I hope not.

    Monday, Nov 6 @ 12:36 pm
  • Beach Ball

    As an insurance professional, in claims, underwriting and sales, for over 45 years, I can attest there are few, if any, insurers other than the extra costly Lloyd’s of London syndicates, that would consider providing wind and flood in the OBX area. Insurers pull out of insurance markets in high risk areas, because of the frequency of storm related weather events and the resultant severe damage to property. Fortunately, the (NCIUA)NC Insurance Underwriting Association wind and hail program is available to insureds in coastal counties. Likewise, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is available to provide flood coverage. The premiums charged by those two government programs are based on the actual costs sustained to provide coverage. Without either or both, purchases and sales of property, would be on a cash basis. No mortgage company is likely to provide a loan on an uninsured property.

    Monday, Nov 6 @ 2:54 pm
  • clint hepler

    Two things would make the property insurance market in NC simplier and more equitable. 1) Require any company that wants to write policies in the State to write everywhere in the State-ie no cherry picking to write policies only in low risk areas. 2) Require that companies apply a single rate State-wide-averages risks across the whole State and spreads the burden out.

    Monday, Nov 6 @ 3:57 pm
  • Equitable Eddy

    Share and share alike, right Clint? Everyone should have to pay towards others decision about living in riskier areas, right on!

    Tuesday, Nov 7 @ 4:31 pm
  • Sean Mulligan

    If your house is paid off you do not have to purchase wind and hail coverage. Most damage to roofs on the Northern Outer banks are from falling trees. As a previous writer stated life is full of risks.

    Thursday, Nov 9 @ 7:18 am