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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina insurance regulators are clearing the largest rate increase in nine years for dwelling policies that cover residential rentals and other properties that are not owner occupied.

Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin's office said Tuesday he signed a settlement agreement with insurance companies allowing a statewide average increase of 13 percent spread over a three-year period. The highest rate increases will be in beach areas of eight coastal counties and the lowest in suburban communities around Charlotte.

The companies requested a statewide average increase of 20.5 percent nearly two years ago.

Goodwin said his deal with insurers was prompted in part because more have been dropping or refusing to offer the policies and he was concerned they may become unavailable.

The last time dwelling insurance rates increased was 2006.

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