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Some homeowners may get insurance credits starting in May

April 10, 2011

The North Carolina Department of Insurance will begin to allow wind and storm credits beginning May 1. The credits come from North Carolina House Bill 1305 passed in 2009 and this May will be the first time the new credits become available.

“We think it’s important that if homeowners take the steps to protect themselves from storms that they get some credit for it,” said Kerry Hall, the director of public information for NCDOI.

The decision is particularly pertinent to Wilmington area residents because it specifically addresses coastal and beach areas.

“The approved mitigation credits will provide premium discounts for wind and hail coverages on homes with qualifying construction features that help mitigate damage and insurance losses,” the NCDOI said in a release last year. “Different credit levels are available depending on a home’s mitigation qualifications.

”Homeowners can apply for the credits through the Institute for Business and Home Safety for an inspection at their own expense. During that inspection, homeowners will be told what is needed to qualify for a credit. If the necessary work is complete, the homeowner can file the IBHS certification with their insurance carrier and receive a credit.

“These are things a lot of people would want to do anyway. It’s a combination of saving money on insurance and having less to worry about,” said Jim Moore, who owns the James E. Moore Insurance Agency in Wilmington.

The cost of the inspection, and then any necessary construction to attain the credit certification, could prove too much for many consumers.

“A lot of the stuff is not feasible with an existing home,” Moore said. “The dollars saved on insurance will not cover the costs incurred."

A new insurance carrier though seeks out homeowners that are willing to pay for the storm mitigation.

“We’re only offering coverage to people along the coast that have taken steps to operate their homes to a higher standard,” said Martin Hartley, the executive vice president and COO of PURE. Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange, or PURE, is an insurance exchange that targets high value homes in North Carolina and shares any profits at the end of the year between all of its policyholders. PURE has operated in North Carolina since 2010.

“What we’re trying to do is only offer coverage to those better risks, and when we do that we can offer those people a much better price,” Hartley said. “These new credits will allow people to get better pricing.”

“The cost of doing an inspection is very high. If you’re a homeowner and want to qualify for some insurance savings the outlay to get this inspection is expensive. People may not go as far as getting the inspection done, because the potential savings are not that big,” Hartley said.

“For the average homeowner, it’s going to be very difficult to make the cost worth it.”