Allain seeks wind insurance oversight

Almost a year after being soaked with rate hikes of 171 percent for wind and hail insurance in St. Mary Parish, state Sen. Bret Allain has successfully passed through the Senate a bill designed to keep that from happening again.

Last May, Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp., Louisiana’s property insurer of last resort, requested rate hikes averaging 58 percent through the state.

“I am doing everything that I can to make sure that never happens again,” Allain said Thursday, calling such a rate increase as happened in St Mary Parish “outrageous.”

Senate Bill 19 would allow either chamber in Baton Rouge to demand a hearing before a joint committee if rates are increased by more than 25 percent in a year, he said.

If either the Senate or the House insurance committees had a problem with future rate hikes, they could demand information showing how the rates conform to actuaries, why the increase is needed and the justification of the increase.

Should the legislative insurance committee disagree with what they hear, they can send the request back to the insurance commissioner with instructions or a request for more information, Allain said.

That would allow Citizens to spread increases over two to five years so that the increases are not as painful.

Allain asked Citizens to reconsider the rate hike last year. “Before imposing such drastic increases on policies, the residents of Louisiana deserve an explanation,” Allain said.

The rate hike was not abated, nor was there sufficient justification given, Allain said.

“I had a couple of ladies on fixed income call me crying that they will have to choose between insurance and food,” Allain said Thursday regarding the insurance rate increases. “This kind of heartless response to people along the coast has got to stop,” he said.

Rep. Sam Jones said he supports it and will be a co-author of the bill on the House side.

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