Appeals Court Hears Challenge To Big Coastal Insurance Jump

A North Carolina appeals court is weighing whether to freeze or even reverse homeowners' insurance premiums that soared by up to 30 percent along the coast while sliding by a third in counties farthest from the shore.

A three-judge Court of Appeals panel heard arguments Thursday in a lawsuit by coastal communities trying to overturn a deal struck in late 2008 between former Insurance Commissioner Jim Long and the North Carolina Rate Bureau, which represents insurers.

The municipalities argued Long approved the rate increases before coastal residents knew insurers had requested them.

Attorneys for the state agency and the Rate Bureau said the insurance commissioner represents consumers, and rate settlements can't be appealed to the court by anyone else.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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