Will a special session solve the state’s property insurance crisis?

Governor John Bel Edwards is calling lawmakers back to the Capitol next week in hopes a special session will resolve the looming problem of insurance companies.
Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 4:59 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 27, 2023 at 7:07 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Governor John Bel Edwards is calling lawmakers back to the Capitol next week in hopes a special session will resolve the looming problem of insurance companies leaving the state, and those staying pricing folks out of their homes. Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon is asking for $45 million to put toward an incentive fund that he says will help attract more companies, drive up competition, and in turn lower prices.

“I know a lot of people are outdone with the Insurance Commissioner, and I am a little myself, to get us in that shape,” said Sen. Bodi White (R).

“I believe many of us think this is a bandaid approach. We’ve got several things that need to occur. But I think he made somewhat of a case that we have to act quickly,” added Rep. Rick Edmonds (R).

The problem some at the Capitol have with the idea of dishing out $45 million is one, it’s a lot of money. And two, if lawmakers cannot come to an agreement on how to divide the funds, there’s no alternative plan.

“It’s a hard pill to swallow as a conservative legislator. What do we do should this legislature decide not to finance or appropriate that $45 million, and I’ll be part of that appropriation process...Or...I mean what is the plan?,” asked Sen. White.

Regardless of who believes what on how we move forward, almost everyone agrees something needs to happen fast.

“I had conversations with folks from the Houma, Thibodeaux area last week and some of them had doubled or tripled their premiums and they were looking at just a matter of a few months before they couldn’t afford to continue to pay,” Rep. Edmonds explained.

Local realtor, Pat Wattam, says she can remember when Louisiana was going through a similar problem and taking a similar approach back in 2005 with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

“We did this before...And look where we are now. The biggest issue that we face as realtors is that we’re losing those roof replacements that many insurance companies give you. But now they’re going to make it where the roofs have to be either 5 years old, 10 years old, if you have a 20 year old roof they’re going to depreciate it and you may not get anything for your roof,” said Wattam.

She went on to say until something can be worked out, her best advice is to shop around for insurance.

“Don’t just take the person who has the insurance on your car if it’s your first house. It’s good to ask your friends who they use. You want to have a reliable company. Because all these companies that bought in before that brought in the cheap insurance rates, who’s paying for those policies now? The insurance companies that stayed here plus us the taxpayers,” Wattam added.

Things will start Monday at noon and last no longer than seven days.

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