Parish council challenges Citizens’ premium increase
Local authorities are pushing Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp. to reconsider its proposed rate hikes for wind and hail policies in St. Mary Parish.
The insurance provider has announced that rates for wind and hail only policies will be increased here by 170 percent effective on June 1. Full coverage policies will rise by only 1.1 percent.
Statewide, the average rate of wind and hail policy increase is 61 percent.
Members of the St. Mary Parish Council passed a resolution Wednesday during their bi-monthly meeting urging Citizens to reconsider the rate plan.
Also, Chief Administrative Officer Henry “Bo” LaGrange told the council that parish President Paul Naquin would be attending a meeting of Citizens board of directors today in Baton Rouge.
Parish Councilman Tim Tregle, District 7, noted that proposed wind and hail increases in neighboring parishes are far lower. He said they are 37 percent in St. Martin Parish, 52 percent in Terrebonne, 47 percent in Lafourche and 68 percent in Iberia.
“It seems like we always catch the brunt here in St. Mary Parish,” he said. “I’m glad Mr. Naquin and (Councilman Steve Bierhorst) are jumping on this. We need to fight back.”
According to a report in the Baton Rouge Advocate, Citizens is a state-backed insurer that began offering the wind and hail policies after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, when some private insurance companies stopped selling coverage for hurricane damage in some coastal areas.
“But Citizens had a hard time figuring out how much to charge for the wind-only coverage because no private insurers offered it,” the report reads. “Citizens has said it ended up selling the coverage too cheaply. Property owners could buy wind coverage from Citizens and separately get private insurance for fire, burglary and other risks for less than a private policy that covered everything.”
The report also said that since filing the rate increase plan with the state that was approved in March, Citizens might recommend a new filing that includes lower rates for wind coverage.
In other business Wednesday the council:
—Heard from Congressman Jeff Landry’s district director Bill Stiles who invited comments from the council on any issues. He told Councilman Sterling Fryou, District 8, that he would do what he could to seek funding through the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for water lily eradication this spring.
—Congratulated members of the Berwick High Girls’ Tennis Team that recently won the state championship.
—Adopted an ordinance setting the salary of the new clerk of the council, Lisa Morgan, who will replace the retiring Kim Pusateri on July 7. The ordinance sets Morgan’s salary at $21.43 per hour during her 90-day probationary period. After that, the hourly wage is $22.50.
—Passed resolutions approving participation in the Quality Jobs Program by Omni Energy Services Corp.; new signatory cards for the Sales and Use Tax Department; execution of a professional services agreement with Kendig Keast Collaborative; an intergovernmental agreement with Sheriff Mark Hebert and health services agreement with Correcthealth Saint Mary LLC both on the provision of healthcare for inmates; a certificate of substantial completion on Phase 2 of the taxiway lights and signage rehab project at Harry P. Williams Memorial Airport; and a contract with the state Division of Administration for Local Government Assistance Program funds on the purchase of a hydraulic backhoe by Consolidated Gravity Drainage District 1.
—Approved redirection of $10,000 in three-tenths sales tax collections to summer youth programs by the West St. Mary recreation district.