Morton's Fork, NC not a great place to be

         An ongoing battle between inland and coastal homeowners in North Carolina has reached something of a Morton's Fork in the road.  It is a compromise but like many such compromises, both sides of the issues are dissatisfied. 

         Morton's Fork reasoning was named for King Henry VII of England's chief tax collector, who figured out a clever way to identify those who could pay the most taxes.  If merchants spent money lavishly and publicly, he levied heavy taxes on them.  If other merchants lived frugally, the Lord Chancellor reasoned that they had saved up enough money to afford to pay the king handsomely as well.  Neither group, as one might imagine, was impressed by Lord Morton's cleverness.

         The good lord came to mind today as I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about how North Carolina lawmakers have tried to split a difference between inland and coastal homeowners in the state.  Inlanders believe their fellow Tar Heel coastals

A new law in North Carolina caps state coverage for hurrciane damage at $750,000, half the previous amount.

are getting too good a deal on insurance.  The issue is about hurricane coverage and, simply put, the state provides an insurance pool for homeowners whose homes are damaged or destroyed by storms.  Until the new law was passed recently, up to $1.5 million was available to thousands of coastal homeowners with properties worth that or more.  Now with the new law, which was enacted largely to appease inland owners who contribute to the pool even though their homes are valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars less than those at the beach, state lawmakers have cut the total available to $750,000.  This means that, to protect themselves, coastal owners need to go out and buy additional private insurance at high prices, in some cases tens of thousands of dollars.

         But inland owners are not off the hook entirely.  In the event of a major hurricane that causes damage in excess of the $1 billion private insurers are compelled to cover, inland policyholders in North Carolina will be on the hook to help pay the difference.  That could mean surcharges on their own premiums of up to 10%.

         Lord Morton would be proud.  Those interested in a golf community along North Carolina's beautiful coast should take note.

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