NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) — Nearly 100,000 people across the state are stranded looking for home insurance in the heart of hurricane season after several insurance companies shut down.
Other companies renewing their policies have also increased their rates.
It’s crushing the brokers, the system and the wallets of the owners.
“We can’t afford insurance and no one in Lafitte can afford insurance for $41,241 a year, $3,500 a month,” Janine Guidry said.
That’s the lifetime quote Lafitte resident Janine Guidry received from LA Citizens, the state’s insurer of last resort, more than seven times what she was paying with Lighthouse Excalibur, one of the companies bankrupt.
“We’re thinking maybe we should take our 401k and pay off the house because right now I have a mortgage and I need to have the insurance and $41,000 a year, maybe I pay it off and I try my luck,” Guidry said. .
The Guidrys are still living in an RV, nearly a year after the storm, unable to collect the rest of the money owed to them, in addition to running their living room.
“My husband and I spoke on the phone to different agencies,” Guidry said. “It is difficult to get in touch with an insurance agent. Some of them don’t respond.
Lafitte is one of the areas hardest hit by this insurance slump, but it’s happening everywhere, even for those who haven’t had their policies cancelled.
“The bounty will be $15,000 next year, three times what it was last year,” Lauren Anderson said.
Anderson lived in the Irish Channel for 30 years and made only one claim after Katrina.
“I don’t know what to do,” Anderson said. “I’m retired, living on a fixed income, taking care of my mom and can’t afford $15,000.”
Two agencies gave him quotes but they were higher.
“After 30 years of loving New Orleans, I can’t afford to live here anymore and I’ve started exploring that option as well,” Anderson said.
Anderson has only two weeks to find out, but also has trouble contacting agents.
“I have records all over the place,” said Ross Fayard, owner of Amstate Insurance. “All these people are looking for insurance and we can’t reach them fast enough. It’s a scary sight.
Fayard said he went to bed at 3:30 a.m., woke up and was back at 6:30 a.m.
“We just have close to 1,900 clients who were trying to move and are insured with us, but then I was getting 100 text messages a day. It completely froze my phone and quotes take three to five days to come back,” said Fayard: “This is the worst insurance I have seen in a very long time.”
He doesn’t think even half of the canceled policies in the state have been replaced and time is running out for time extensions. Companies won’t write policies when there’s a named storm in the Gulf and he says there have been major issues with citizens’ site access
“They are not equipped for this. I spoke to a lady today with Citizens, one of the nicest ladies in the world. I could just hear that she wanted to cry,” Fayard said. “I just don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel right now.”
Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon said they are working on the technical issues with Citizens, but we have not received an update.
He also said other companies are writing policies, but speaking with officers across the region, it seems for many, citizens may be the only option.
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