Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Capitol Press Corps, John Locke Foundation Make June an Interesting Month for Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin

June has been quite the month.

Personally, I may have transcended to a new level in state politics: For the first time I was the subject of one of the annual press skits performed by the North Carolina Capitol Press Corps ... and was the beneficiary of positive press and analysis by both the Heartland Institute and John Hood of the John Locke Foundation, a somewhat rare feat for a Democrat.

In the skit, one Capitol press reporter portrayed me as a wrestler tangling with fellow political grappler Marc Basnight played by another journalist, with yet a third member of the Fourth Estate serving as the ringside announcer. The premise is that the State of North Carolina is in desperate need of money for the budget hole, and decided that a "main event" between the Dare County Senator and me, as a result of a recent coastal insurance brouhaha, would raise ample funds to help the State's budget.

As for the unexpected praise from both Heartland and Hood's Carolina Journal, it, too, was a result of my focus during the first 18 months of my term on reforming the State's "Beach Plan" coastal insurance problem. John Hood, creatively entitling his column "Good Win for Insurance Reform", cites Eli Lehrer of Heartland who, in turn, writes:

"North Carolina has showed marked improvement over the three years we've calculated this report card. ... [T]here have been real changes thanks, in large part, to insurance commissioner Wayne Goodwin.

North Carolina's state legislature, with the leadership of newly elected Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, enacted major reforms to the state's troubled wind-damage insurance pool. ... its fiscal risks to the state and its insurance industry have been significantly lessened."
And that tops what I learned in May: that a New York Times bestseller references me by name for work I'd done in the legislature.

What would have truly made June a triple-threat? Appearing in a newspaper editorial cartoon! (Or having Ric Flair play me in a sequel to the wrestling skit.)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Smithfield Kiwanis Club Welcomes Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin

At the rustic Becky's Log Cabin Restaurant, Smithfield Kiwanians hosted state Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin for its monthly meeting this week.

In addition to praising the Johnston County club's long-time commitment to community service and improving the welfare of children, the statewide elected official presented an overview of how he and the Department of Insurance serve and protect North Carolina consumers. He then fielded questions about the recent federal health insurance reforms, ratemaking, coastal insurance issues and its impact on non-coastal areas, and fighting insurance fraud.

A special message thereafter came to the Department's consumer citizen suggestion box from the Kiwanis of Smithfield:

"Pardon the use of this form, but I wanted to thank Commissioner Goodwin for speaking at our Kiwans Club meeting last night (6-22). I appreciate his taking time to visit and share the various aspects and responsibilities of his job with us.. He did a great job and our folks enjoyed his visit greatly.

Please continue the good work that you are doing for the citizens of our great state. You have our encouragement and support as I'm sure the decisions and passions are high on all issues before you.

Warmest Regards,

Terry Ellis
Vice President
The last time Goodwin visited the club was two years ago during his service as Assistant Commissioner. He also has been a Kiwanian in Rockingham and Raleigh since 1992.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Commissioner Wayne Goodwin Orders Increased Mitigation Credits for Homeowners Insurance along the Coast

Commissioner Orders Insurance Companies to Pay Much Larger, Pro-Consumer Credits for Carolina Homeowners.

Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin today announced that he has ordered a schedule of mitigation credits for qualifying homeowners insurance policies in North Carolina’s beach and coastal territories. The credits will be effective May 1, 2011 and apply to policies written in the voluntary market and the Beach Plan within the 18 coastal counties. The credits stem from a N.C. Rate Bureau filing required by the 2009 enactment of H.B. 1305 which sought to reform coastal property insurance.

“I’m proud that the Department’s review of the initial filing resulted in larger credits for coastal homeowners than those originally requested,” said Commissioner Goodwin. “Every dollar is important in today’s economic climate, and we wanted to make sure that homeowners will see discounts for the upgrades they have in place to protect their homes.” Homeowners with questions about whether or not their homes qualify for credits should contact their insurance agent and/or company, Goodwin added.
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. Different credit levels are available depending on a home’s mitigation qualifications. (Some details are found at the Insurance Journal and the Wilmington Star-News linked here.)

According to the filing language, the largest credits available are for homes that are built in compliance with the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) Fortified New category. IBHS has three additional levels for which a home can be certified for mitigation credits: gold, silver and bronze. Within each of these three levels, credits will depend upon certain roofing standards. In addition to IBHS standards, there will be credits for homes built or retrofitted with certain mitigation features including engineered window shutters, a hip roof or a combination of both.

The charts linked here and also on the Department's website show sample wind and hail premium credits (in dollars) for qualifying mitigation efforts taken on a home valued at $150,000. The first chart shows what the NCRB filed, the second chart shows what the Department of Insurance ordered, and the third chart shows the percentage increase from the initial credits filed to the final credits ordered.

The N.C. Rate Bureau will be establishing standards for certifying homes in accordance with the mitigation credit schedule over the next several months and communicating with insurance carriers and agents, who will relay the process to their policyholders. To determine what credit level for which a home might qualify, consumers should contact their insurance company and/or agent or review the IBHS website.

"This is yet another example of your Department of Insurance working for you, the homeowner," said Goodwin. "Though no written objections were received by the Department to the initial public filing made by the Rate Bureau, it was important to me as our Insurance Commissioner that the maximum justifiable credits be granted - thus, I ordered a larger credit. This is in line with how I've ordered refunds and rate cuts in other lines of insurance purchased by North Carolinians."
The Insurance Commissioner also stated that it was important to approve the best credits possible now and not allow delays because that would have caused homeowners to go without the credits for another hurricane season.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

What Are They Smoking in the Eighth Congressional District?

Well, now you know.

With all the national, statewide, and regional headscratching going on about North Carolina politics, namely in the Eighth Congressional District's 2010 Republican primary runoff election, it should come as no surprise that in Richmond County, the heart of the district, Sheriff deputies have discovered 60,000 marijuana plants.

The latest bust of a large field of marijuana by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office yielded more than 26,500 two-to three-foot tall plants, driving the total number of plants seized over the past month to well over 60,000.

“In my 40-year career, this is the most I’ve ever seen being grown in one area, and it means there’s probably a lot more out there that we just haven’t found yet,” Richmond County Sheriff Dale Furr said Friday. “You can see why marijuana has become the number one cash crop in North Carolina.”
Of course, we don't know what South Carolina's excuse is for the Mark Sanford, Nikki Haley, and Alvin Greene episodes!

While the Tar Heel state's political arena deals with allegations of garden-variety marital infidelity and general government corruption, the Palmetto state appears to be indulging in whatever bordering Richmond County has growing in its garden.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Goodwin Reminds Alamance Dems of "Go Forward" Program

Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin Provided Keynote Address for Three Governors' Dinner

Last month the state's Insurance Commissioner stoked the fires of Alamance County Democrats, home of not only three Governors of North Carolina but also birthplace of his predecessor in office, the late Jim Long.

Also attending the annual event were Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and former State Senator Cal Cunningham, Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate; former Rep. Bertha "B" Holt, who passed away last week; State Senator Tony Forriest; NC Representative Alice Bordsen; Jessie Rae Scott, the widow of the late Governor Bob Scott; Peg O'Connell, widow of former Insurance Commissioner Jim Long, and countless judges, local officials, precinct leaders, and several hundred Democratic activists.

Goodwin wowed the crowd with his emphasis on how important it is to "tune in (to what's happening), turn up (the volume), and turn out (the vote)", a theme he has shared at multiple partisan events statewide.

Another theme of Goodwin appeared when he also explained his concerns about how certain right-wing ideologues were fomenting insurrection and eroding an already degraded level of civil political discourse.

Most interesting were the words of former North Carolina Governor Kerr Scott - father of Governor Bob Scott - that Goodwin shared with the crowd:
"Man never solves a problem by standing still - when a man stands still, the world goes on and leaves him behind. North Carolina has grown great because the leadership of North Carolina, throughout the years, has been inspired to press ever forward toward the goal of providing, within the ability of the people to pay for them, the maximum governmental services and facilities which are the heritage and right of a people who enoy the privilege of living under the banner of democracy.

Refusing to move forward and to meet our responsibilities of the present and of the future is nothing short of defeatism. I have no patience with this philosophy - call it conservatism, hold the line, or what you may say!

I do not believe that the people of North Carolina are so morally, spiritually or financially bankrupt that they want education in North Carolina to slip backward. I do not believe that the people of North Carolina want to deny adequate hospital care for the sick and the cripple, support for the aged, and adequate institutional care for the insane, the blind, and the deaf.

... I have talked with rich men and poor men, with farmers and with those who live in the cities and towns, with men, women, and children in all walks of life; and the overwhelming majority of them believe in the future and share the conviction that North Carolina should not throttle the future by a perverted hold the line interpretation.

In some cases the hold the line school of defeatism is actually seeking to establish a line behind the present line. Such would be the case if we failed to consolidate the gains already accomplished in the field of education."
"Those words - those principles of Scott's Go Forward plan - are most prescient and timeless," said Goodwin. "Education is the roadmap of going forward - the key to success - for our State."

Kinston, Lenoir County Welcome Goodwin to Groundbreaking

State Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin Delivers Remarks for New Woodmen of the World Community Center

Yesterday the town of Kinston and Lenoir County joined Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin and State Auditor Beth Wood at the groundbreaking for a new community center. With a massive American flag displayed behind them in the blazing midday sun, the special guests and local officials each waxed eloquent on how the $6 million investment will refurbish and re-energize an area buffeted like others from the recent economic downturn.

Joining them were Chamber of Commerce leaders, State Representative Van Braxton, former and current employees of Smithfield Foods, and many area citizens.

For more coverage, go to today's article in The Kinston Free Press, linked here.

Commissioner Goodwin's brief remarks honed in on a key tenet of the celebration.

Thank you, Kinston and Lenoir County, and our Woodmen of the World organization, for inviting me to be here this morning!

Yes, indeed, it is a grand occasion and an honor to be part of this groundbreaking ceremony.

As a member of the Council of State, and as a fellow Woodman, I am proud of what this new facility is about.

But, it is more than that: This new facility underscores and epitomizes what Woodmen are all about - before, ever, and always: faith and family, children and youth, community and country.
Our Woodmen of the World are dedicated to each.

And as state Insurance Commissioner I also want to share with you that our Woodmen of the World here in North Carolina, a fraternal organization regulated in part by my office, holds a special place in the hearts of employees of the Department of Insurance.

On behalf of the great State of North Carolina and her people, thank you to all who have helped make this dream come true. And may God continue to bless Kinston, Lenoir County and eastern North Carolina.
This is the second time in less than two months that Goodwin made an official visit to Kinston: He threw the ceremonial first pitch for a game of the Kinston Indians baseball team this season.

Without a doubt, Goodwin is a strong proponent of Eastern North Carolina, stretching back throughout his many years in the North Carolina General Assembly and as a statewide elected official.