News 15 Investigates: Louisiana Home Insurance Crisis

News 15 Investigates into what is being done to improve the Home Insurance issues in Louisiana.

Lafayette, LA (KADN)-The State of Louisiana is in full fledged crisis mode when it comes to homeowner’s insurance due to hurricanes especially for those living in South Louisiana coastal towns.

We take an in-depth look into the current situation…as News 15 investigates what is being done to help those who feel they have very few options when it comes to purchasing home insurance. The Insurance Delima continues to hit hard here in Louisiana. Over 20 Insurance Companies have gone under or left the state over the past couple of years. This has forced hundreds of families to pay higher premiums or just go without coverage all together.

Levi Kastner is an Insurance Broker. He says a number of different things will have to happen in order for many across the state to have more home insurance options. Kastner says “I think it’s gonna take a little bit of a multiprong approach solution to get back from realtors, to builders, to personal people taking better care of their homes. Stricter building codes and then builders associations going back to the insurance companies saying hey we’re gonna build to stricter building codes and then can we get some credits that will allow new insurance companies to come into the market.”

Teresa Pastor has been a real estate agent in Lafayette for 13 years. She has helped hundreds of people buy and sell homes over that time. Right now is the worst she has ever seen the home insurance situation in Louisiana and she says its directly affected how and what homes residents can purchase. “Bottom line is it does affect that monthly note, it’s certainly affecting the price of a home or a person can afford. And it does slow people down because if everything they see on the market is junk to them well yea there not gonna pull the trigger,” Pastor says.

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Anita Landry lives with her husband inside this home in Delcambre. They have been dropped by 3 different insurance companies over the past year. Currently they are with Louisiana Citizens which is the state’s insurer of last resort. The Louisiana Department of Insurance approved a 63 percent rate increase for Louisiana Citizens which went into effect on January 1st. Landry says she is disgusted with the lack of home insurance options she has.” I think we have no choice I’m very disappointed in our insurance commissioner Mr. Donelon. Once Rita passed he just let things go and never did anything I feel he never did anything to entice insurance companies to insure the citizens of the state,” says Landry.

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Now to get those numbers down the Louisiana Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon tells me he has asked the legislators to let him use a 20 million dollar surplus to help fund a bill that will be patterned after what was done after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and was very successful. Donelon says, “It’s called the Louisiana Insurance Incentive Program and it’s patterned after what we did after Katrina and Rita that was very successful attracting 30 regional small companies to our market to replace the existing major National Carriers who exited not just our coastal exposure buy all coastal exposure from Mexico to Miami up to the Atlantic Coast.”

Donelon has had several talks with Governor John Bel Edwards recently about holding a special session next month to in order to take swifter action on this insurance crisis.

The Governor says it can wait until April 10th when the regular session takes place. “I don’t believe we will do a special session but we do have the opportunity to do with the excess in the current year when we go into session in April we can very quickly take up a supplemental appropriation that would move money that is excess in the current year in the incentive program that was reestablished through legislation last year,” says the Governor.

Louisiana has endured 5 major hurricanes since Katrina hit the state in 2005.

Donelon says he knows Louisiana Citizens cannot be the only insurance option for homeowners along the states coast. “We need the insurance coverage that the private sector and the only private sector can produce. The state absolutely cannot afford to take on the coverage for Hurricane Exposure.”

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