(The Center Square) – Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards met with state and local lawmakers, home and business owners and others in New Orleans and Larose on Thursday to promote insurance reforms to improve services after natural disasters.
The discussions Thursday and plans for a similar event in Lake Charles in the future are aimed at learning from the challenges facing Louisianans who still are fighting with their insurance companies after hurricanes in 2020 and 2021, and explaining how proposed legislation can fix the issues, according to an Edwards statement.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – after a natural disaster, it’s unacceptable that many Louisianans are more scared of their insurance companies than the storm itself,” Edwards said. “It’s simply unconscionable that homeowners must fight through constantly changing adjusters, lack of response, and fine print that hikes their deductibles, just so they can rebuild what is theirs. After a hurricane, our people have enough to worry about without having to be concerned that their insurance companies will simply leave them stranded in an endless cycle of claims denials.”
Edwards pointed to five bills he is supporting to address various issues that are pending in the state Legislature.
House Bill 317, sponsored by Rep. Matthew Willard, D-New Orleans, and Senate Bill 150, sponsored by Sen. Jay Luneau, D-Alexandria, would require insurance companies to provide information to homeowners about policies on named storms, hurricanes and wind and hail deductibles. It also would require a signature from the policyholder before insurance companies change deductibles.
Willard also is the sponsor of House Bill 316, which would require insurance companies to provide information and documentation about claims in a timely manner, so homeowners understand how claims are progressing.
Edwards also highlighted House Bill 692, sponsored by Rep. Ed Larvadain III, D-Alexandria, to create a Louisiana Named Storm Insurance Fraud Prevention Authority. The authority would be tasked with enforcing the state’s existing insurance fraud laws.
House Bill 682, sponsored by Rep. Chad Brown, D-Plaquemine, would create a registry for insurance claims adjusters to help policyholders confirm those sent by an insurance company are qualified.
Another proposed reform, House Bill 805, sponsored by Rep. Kyle Green Jr., D-Marrero, would regulate how mortgage companies disburse insurance checks to ensure they are not unnecessarily withheld from homeowners working to repair their homes.
Edwards stressed his support for insurance reforms is not restricted to the specific bills in his legislative agenda.
“Fortunately for home and business owners who are still trapped in insurance purgatory, unable to rebuild and fully recover, there is bipartisan support and momentum for meaningful insurance reform in this legislative session,” he said. “I look forward to working with legislators in this fight to get our home and business owners out of this desperate situation.”
Dozens of instruments involving insurance reforms are pending in the Louisiana Legislature for the current session, which runs through June 6, including reforms to penalize insurers for deceptive practices and for not timely paying property insurance claims related to catastrophic events.