Louisiana News

Insurers tally at least $7.7 billion in Louisiana damage from 2020 hurricane season

(The Center Square) – Insurers have paid or reserved $7.7 billion on claims in Louisiana through the end of 2020 from hurricanes Laura, Delta and Zeta, which represents the first measure of damage from all three storms, Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says.

A claims reserve is money insurance companies set aside to pay expected claims.

Policyholders had filed 290,847 claims from the three storms as of Dec. 31. Of those, 161,704 claims, or 56%, were closed with payment, garnering $5 billion in payments, according to Donelon’s office.

“This is $7.7 billion owed to Louisiana policyholders to rebuild their lives, homes and businesses,” Donelon said. “Furthermore, it’s billions of dollars that didn’t come from taxpayers in a time when municipal budgets are reeling from the events of the last year.”

Many residents of southwest Louisiana, which bore the brunt of last year’s record-breaking hurricane season, say their insurers have so far failed to compensate them for their losses. Consumers are urged to contact the Department of Insurance with their complaints.

The figures include claims data from personal and commercial insurance. The National Flood Insurance Program, which the state insurance department doesn’t regulate, is not included.

Policyholders filed 169,891 claims from Hurricane Laura, which hit southwest Louisiana on Aug. 27 as a Category 4 storm with 150-miles-per-hour winds. Calcasieu, Rapides, Beauregard, Ouachita and Vernon parishes had the most claims from the storm, according to the insurance department.

By the end of last year, insurers had closed 77% of the claims from Hurricane Laura, 59% of which were closed with payment, the department says. Total paid losses plus reserves on reported claims from all surveyed lines of insurance for Hurricane Laura at the end of 2020 were $6.6 billion, accounting for the vast majority of damage from the 2020 hurricane season.

Policyholders filed 71,945 claims from Hurricane Delta, which made landfall in southwest Louisiana Oct. 9 as a Category 2 storm. Calcasieu, Lafayette, Acadia, East Baton Rouge and St. Landry parishes filed the most claims from the storm, Donelon’s office says.

At the end of 2020, insurers had closed 82% of all Delta claims, and 53% of those claims were closed with payment, Donelon says. Insurers have paid or reserved $556 million to cover losses from Hurricane Delta.

Policyholders had filed 49,011 claims through the end of the year from Hurricane Zeta, which made landfall in Terrebonne Parish on Oct. 28 as a Category 2 storm. Most of the claims came from Jefferson, Orleans, St. Bernard, St. Tammany and Lafourche parishes, Donelon’s office says.

Insurers closed 79% of reported Zeta claims, and 46% of those claims were closed with payment. Total paid losses plus reserves on reported claims from all surveyed lines of insurance were $499 million for Hurricane Zeta at the end of 2020.

Data for the 2020 hurricanes through Dec. 31 can be found at www.ldi.la.gov/datacallresults.

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