With insurance reform, Louisiana lawmakers could prove they’re listening

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After the disastrous 2005 hurricane season, Louisiana leaders at the federal, state, and local levels aligned with the goal of ensuring the state was better prepared for future disasters. Flood protection would be improved, building codes would account for increasing storm intensity, and insurance companies would respond more quickly and adequately compensate homeowners for their losses.

The last two hurricane seasons have proven that the authorities have not kept their word. Some claims for progress are valid in the first two areas, given the billions our government and the private sector have spent to build smarter and stronger. But hurricanes Laura, Delta and Ida have exposed the big gaps that persist in home insurance reform. Several months later, thousands of homeowners are still displaced or living in structures in need of repair while their damage claims are unnecessarily delayed.

Members of the Louisiana Legislative Assembly have presented proposals to deal with a situation that can accurately be described as a crisis. Now they need courageous colleagues who are willing to do the right thing rather than give in to the influence of the deep-pocketed insurance lobby.

A number of measures target claims adjusters, who were either difficult to access or not equipped to make important decisions regarding landlord claims.

Proposals from Rep. Chad Brown of Plaquemine and Sen. Jeremy Stine of Lake Charles would create an adjusters registry that would allow homeowners to search online to determine if their adjuster is legitimate and qualified.

Senators Joe Bouie of New Orleans and Gary Smith of Norco want to limit the number of adjusters who handle a property claim to three. Many horror stories emerged after Ida involving clients who were forced to face a clown car of fitters, none of whom were able to deliver satisfaction.

There are also proposals to require insurers to cover evacuation costs when departure is strongly recommended – not just mandatory. These bills from Rep. Laurie Schlegel of Metairie and Senator Kirk Talbot of River Ridge could ultimately save lives when you consider the people who, without being able to take advantage of the insurance they pay for, would not have the necessary resources. to leave the house.

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Some of the proposals also benefit insurers by ensuring their customers are well informed about their policy decisions.

Invoices of Sen. Jay Luneau of Alexandria and Rep. Matthew Williard of New Orleans would notify owners of the surprise franchises. After a storm, policyholders often find that they have to pay for a certain portion of their repairs out of pocket if their coverage includes a named storm deductible. If the cost of the deductible is beyond the owner’s reach, his insurance policy is basically useless. The proposals would require the customer to provide written consent for named storm deductibles for their policy to take effect.

Lawmakers will also revisit auto insurance this session, following broken promises from so-called tort reform two years ago. Lawyers claimed changes to the law would cut rates by 25%. Instead, they increased by almost 20%.

Hopefully the legislature wakes up to the fact that our approach to insurance reform is forcing people to leave Louisiana – not just think about it, but actually pack up and go.

When you literally can’t rebuild your house, how are you going to stay? If you can’t afford to insure your vehicle, why stay?

When the people you elect to represent your best interests routinely act on behalf of power industry groups, why bother?

Greg LaRose is editor of the Louisiana Illuminator. He can be reached at [email protected]

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