Legislators Debate on the Best Way to Sell Off Citizens Insurance

The state wants out of the insurance business, but the question is how best to leave it. What legislators decide to do could determine how much you have to pay for insurance in the future. Citizens Insurance Company, which is run by the state, is about $5 billion dollars in the hole. Many legislators say that should tell you something. Senator James David Cain says, "This whole Citizens Insurance was designed to fail in the first place. The state can't run an insurance business."

Representative Karen Carter says, "This is something that, unfortunately, people are suffering with every day, the high cost of premiums." Representative Karen Carter of New Orleans is working with Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon and Governor Blanco to sell Citizens Insurance back to private insurance companies. However, they are not confident that any private company will buy into Citizens unless they get extra incentives.

Representative Carter's solution is to try to lure them with $100 million, and possibly sell Citizens in pieces, to several companies. She says Senator James David Cain is holding her back with his own plan of trying to sell Citizens in one chunk. Representative Carter says, "I asked him not to bring the amendment and not to tie it to the bill because I do believe that it is playing politics and we only have two weeks left in this session and this is a very important bill to the policy holders and the consumers of this state."

Senator Cain says if Representative Carter's bill passed, the state would have no chance at selling Citizens all at once. He says, "For God's sake, once in our lifetime let's try and get rid of Citizens Insurance before we start pulling off the good parts. That's the way to kill it." These legislators may disagree on how to best get out, but they agree that it is past time for Louisiana to get out of the insurance business. Senator Cain says, "We can't keep going the way we're doing or our great-great-grandkids will be paying for this."