Lake Charles, La. (KPLC) – Preparing for the storm and the damage it brings is only half the battle when it comes to hurricanes.
For many, the real nightmare begins when they deal with insurance, and in Southwest Louisiana, that nightmare continues for some as their hurricane claims are still unsettled.
Hurricane Laura tore through southwest Louisiana in August 2020, causing widespread destruction and sending trees through the roof of Tyler Collins’ home.
“It’s nothing compared to what insurance companies do,” Collins said. “They just cause too much: the grief, the frustration, everything, every part of the step. The hurricane was child’s play compared to what insurance companies are doing to people.
Collins said dealing with the insurance has been a nightmare, saying the company refused to pay what was needed to fix her home. He went through 27 adjusters with six different companies and then got lawyers involved.
“The first time they sent us our biggest check was $75,000 and that was really going to help rebuild the house. The house was gutted,” Collins said.
Between his insurance and mortgage companies, Collins told 7News it was a constant battle.
“I didn’t know it would be such a headache, such a battle to get the money from the mortgage company just to fix our house.” The mortgage company wants the house fixed, but they won’t put up the money to fix the house, which doesn’t make any sense,” Collins said.
It’s a story too many share, and now lawmakers have made some progress trying to fix the process.
“At the committee, we heard story after story about the long period of time and the delay tactics that were used and to get the people, the homeowners, what was contractually owed to them, which is their money, after being hit by these devastating hurricanes,” Senator Jeremy Stein said.
Stein was among several authors of insurance reform measures in the last legislative session.
“The storm insurance reform package, as you recall, was very much focused on transparency around the insurance industry, bringing accountability to some of these bad actors in the insurance industry,” Stein said.
Stein explains that the new laws put more pressure on insurance companies to act more quickly. For example, the hurricane mediation program.
“This will quickly get, hopefully, what’s owed to the homeowner without protracted litigation, and it’s a way to speed up that process, and it’s just one part of the storm insurance reform package Stein said.
Outside of this package of reforms, other new laws address the role of mortgage companies in the post-storm recovery process.
“A lot of credit to Rep. Farnum for getting this passed, it’s going to help these mortgage companies release those funds faster to the homeowner,” Stein said.
Senator Stein had other insurance reform bills that did not pass this session. He plans to revise them to continue the reform.
Now the Collins home is finally in the final stages of reconstruction, but the stress still lingers.
“It shouldn’t be like this. It shouldn’t be a fight,” Collins said.
A fight he hopes doesn’t happen next time.
Storm Insurance Reform Package + Additional Insurance Reform Legislation:
- SB 209 (ACT 683) (Stine) authorizes the Commissioner of Insurance to order certain penalties against persons engaged in an unfair method of competition or an unfair or deceptive act or practice.
- SB 210 (ACT 68) (Stine) authorizes fines in lieu of suspension or revocation of certificate of authority for foreign or foreign insurers.
- SB 212 (ACT 591) (Stine) establishes and maintains the hurricane mediation program.
- SR 140 (Stine) urges the Insurance Commissioner to investigate the issue of insurers failing to timely pay property damage claims following a presidential or gubernatorial declaration of a disaster or emergency.
- SB 163 (ACT 80) (Talbot/Stein) merged with Stine’s SB 232; requires that during a declared emergency, the insurer must send the claimant a Accident Claim Process Disclosure Form.
- SB 198 (ACT 263) (Talbot/Stine) establishes that during a declared emergency or disaster, the insured is provided with a summary of their policy information within a six-month period of time following the transfer of a claim to an adjuster.
- SB 264 (ACT 69) (Bouier) provides for minimum capital and surplus requirements for certain domestic insurers.
- SB 412 (ACT 776) (Talbot) creates the Insure Louisiana Incentive Program.
- HB 521 (ACT 157) (Huval) requires every insurer and every health maintenance organization to maintain a disaster response plan.
- HB 539 (firm) prohibits contractors from interpreting an insurance policy or adjusting a property insurance claim on behalf of an insured.
- HB 682 (Brown/Stine) merged with Stine’s SB 330; creates a state database of corrective claims.
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