La. insurance commissioner says policyholders in much better place this hurricane season
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - There are some changes coming this fall to your homeowner insurance policies, following the destruction caused by recent major hurricanes that hit our state.
Several insurance companies have since gone belly up.
But Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says rules are in place, to hopefully prevent insurance companies from folding again and leaving you unprotected.
The Department of Insurance received more than 7,000 complaints, as a result of the damage and devastation of recent hurricanes.
“Covering 800,000 plus claims filed against insurers, as a result of damage suffered by our citizens as a result of those hurricanes,” said Donelon.
As a result of all those claims, some companies went out of business, leaving thousands of homeowners without a safety net. Donelon says new changes will strengthen policies and make it easier for you to get help after a storm.
“We lost some of the weaker companies from our marketplace, and we’ve put in place higher requirements, financial requirements, for those continuing to do business in the residential property insurance market in Louisiana,” said Donelon.
The Louisiana legislature tightened the rules on insurance companies and put in place new protections for policyholders.
“We learned an awful lot and we have improved the system to better handle what we’ve been through the past few hurricane seasons,” he said.
Like a new bill that requires companies that are looking to write residential property insurance in our state, to put up $10 million instead of $3 million.
“Frankly, we copied that legislation from what Florida had done 3 or 4 years ago, raising their capital and surplus requirement for a license to do property insurance in that state,” said Donelon.
One of the biggest complaints lawmakers received after the storms, was multiple adjusters not answering the phone.
“So what this bill does, if you’re on your third adjuster in a 6 month period, that the insurance companies are required to give you one person that is going to be your point of contact. And somebody that knows your claim, knows your process, and is going to give you a written status report of your claim,” said Senator Kirk Talbot, chair of the Senate Insurance Committee.
Another bill requires insurance companies to disclose their disaster response plans to customers.
“The bill specifies that a written response plan must include an emergency contact for essential personnel, alternative work sites to be used in the event of a catastrophe,” said Representative Mike Huval, the chair of the House Insurance Committee.
Anything can help, as some Louisiana residents are already facing rising home insurance rates.
Before a hurricane possibly comes our way, the Louisiana Department of Insurance urges everyone to:
- Check up on your insurance coverages. Named storm and hurricane deductibles typically run two to five percent of the insured property value. If a home has an insured value of $200,000 with a five percent hurricane deductible, the policyholder would pay $10,000 out of pocket before insurance coverage took effect.
- Get flood insurance. Flood damage resulting from heavy rain or storm surge is excluded from most policies and there is typically a 30-day waiting period before a flood insurance policy takes effect. For information on a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policy, you can contact your agent or visit www.floodsmart.gov. You can search for an agent on the LDI website www.ldi.la.gov/findagent.
- Update your home inventory. You can use your phone to take pictures or video of the items in your home. Having a record of your possessions will make the claims process easier in the event of property damage or loss. Include identifying information such as brand name and serial number. The NAIC Home Inventory App makes it easy for you to create a record of your belongings. The app allows users to upload and export photos, find disaster preparation advice and review information about filing a claim. The NAIC Home Inventory App is available for download in the App Store and Google Play.
- Have copies of your policies and your agent’s contact information ready to go. In case of an emergency evacuation, you will want to have copies of your family’s essential documents and your agent’s contact information to enable you to start the claims process as soon as possible.
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