BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon is addressing hurricane season, now less than two weeks away, and is urging everyone in Louisiana to invest in flood insurance, whether you think you need it or not.
"All it takes is one to come your way and you are faced with a serious challenge," said Donelon. "Buy a flood insurance policy. It is still the best insurance a property owner can make in any corner of Louisiana."
History has proven Louisiana has been a target for numerous natural disasters, including hurricanes such as Katrina, Rita, and others, tornadoes this year and last, plus all the recent flooding.
Fifty-six of Louisiana's 64 parishes have had major disasters declared in just the past 18 months. That's nearly 90 percent of the state. Of those, 14 parishes were declared a major disaster twice.
Even with all the major disasters, there are still plenty of people in the Bayou State who do not have flood insurance. The number of people insured varies from parishes with less than five percent up to more than 50 percent of the people in parishes along the coast. Only 13 percent of the people in the Baton Rouge area have flood insurance.
In 2004, one year before Katrina, 378,000 people in Louisiana had flood insurance. After Katrina, that number went up to 494,000, but slowly started to decline. Since 2015, it's been on a steady decline, with 491,546 people now insured in Louisiana, making the Bayou State the third largest state in the country with people buying flood insurance, right behind Florida with 1.8 million policies, and Texas with 606,000.
But Louisiana leads the country in how much the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has paid out.
"Since 1978, Louisiana has collected now $19 billion in paid losses for insured property flooded while covered by the National Flood Insurance Program," said Donelon.
The next three states with the largest payouts from the NFIP include Texas, with nearly $7 billion paid in losses, New Jersey, with $6 billion, and New York, with $5.3 billion, which is due to Super Storm Sandy. But even after combining those three states, Louisiana still leads in payouts. It's why the commissioner stresses that residents get flood insurance.
It takes 30 days for flood insurance to go into effect after you buy it.