‘We improved the system’ Insurance Commissioner says policyholders are in a much better place this hurricane season

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – There are some changes coming to your homeowner’s insurance policies this fall after the devastation caused by the recent major hurricanes that hit our state.

Since then, several insurance companies have stepped up.

CONNECTED: Thousands of Louisiana residents will lose their homeowners insurance this month

But Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donnellan says the rules are in place so hopefully insurance companies can’t fail again and leave you unprotected.

The Department of Insurance has received more than 7,000 claims as a result of damage and devastation from recent hurricanes.

“Covering over 800,000 claims filed against insurers as a result of damages sustained by our citizens as a result of these hurricanes,” Donnellon said.

As a result of all these claims, some companies have gone out of business, leaving thousands of homeowners without a safety net. Donelon says the new changes will strengthen policies and make it easier for you to get help after a storm.

“We’ve lost some of the weaker companies from our market and put in place higher requirements, financial requirements, for those who continue to do business in the Louisiana home insurance market,” Donnellon said.

The Louisiana Legislature has tightened rules for insurance companies and introduced new protections for policyholders.

“We’ve learned an awful lot and improved the system to better handle what we’ve been through the last couple of hurricane seasons,” he said.

Like a new bill that requires companies looking to insure residential properties in our state to pledge $10 million instead of $3 million.

“Frankly, we copied this legislation from what Florida had done 3 or 4 years ago, raising the capital and surplus requirement for a property insurance license in that state,” Donnellon said.

One of the biggest complaints lawmakers received after the storms was that numerous regulators weren’t answering the phone.

“So what this bill does is, if you’re on your third adjuster in a 6-month period, insurance companies are required to give you one person who will be your point of contact. And someone who knows your claim, knows your process, and will give you a written report on the status of your claim,” said Sen. Kirk Talbot, chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee.

Another bill requires insurance companies to disclose their disaster response plans to customers.

“The bill specifies that the written response plan must include emergency contact for essential personnel, alternate workplaces to be used in the event of a disaster,” said Congressman Mike Huval, chairman of the House Insurance Committee.

Anything can help, as some Louisiana residents are already facing rising home insurance rates.

CONNECTED: Some homeowners are seeing astronomical insurance premium increases

Before a potential hurricane comes our way, the Louisiana Department of Insurance is urging everyone to:

  • Check your insurance coverages. Named deductibles for storms and hurricanes are usually two to five percent of the value of the insured property. If a home has an insured value of $200,000 with a five percent hurricane deductible, the policyholder will pay $10,000 out of pocket before the insurance coverage takes effect.
  • Get flood insurance. Flood damage resulting from heavy rain or storms is excluded from most policies and there is usually a 30-day waiting period before a flood insurance policy takes effect. For information about the 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 at www.ldi.la.gov/findagent.
  • Update your home inventory. You can use your phone to take pictures or video of the objects in your home. Having a record of your property will facilitate the claims process 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 to create a record of your belongings. The app allows users to upload and export photos, find disaster preparedness tips and view claim information. The NAIC Home Inventory app is available for download on the App Store and Google Play.
  • Have copies of your policies and your agent’s contact information ready. In the event of an emergency evacuation, you’ll want to have copies of your family’s essential documents and your agent’s contact information so you can begin the claims process as soon as possible.

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