Officials Unveil ‘Catastrophe Reform’ Legislative Package

BATON ROUGE — Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, Sen. Kirk Talbot and Rep. Mike Huval unveiled their joint Catastrophe Reform Package for the 2022 Legislative Session during a March 14 press conference at the Louisiana Department of Insurance. Talbot is chair of the Senate Insurance Committee and Huval is House Insurance Committee chair.

“I want policyholders across the state to know we have heard their concerns and we are taking action to deal with them,” said Donelon in a press release. “Our Catastrophe Reform Package addresses ongoing issues from the last few hurricanes while establishing forward-looking protections that will help policyholders in the future.”

The package includes six bills that Donelon, Talbot and Huval say will strengthen protections for policyholders in the aftermath of hurricanes and other disasters.

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“We’re hoping to clear up some of the confusion for constituents who are frustrated with the claims process,” said Talbot. “Our goal is to give policyholders peace of mind and a better understanding of their policy protections.”

“I always urge residents to prepare before hurricane season gets here, and I am proud to introduce the Fortify Homes Program that encourages policyholders to increase their home’s resiliency at very little cost,” said Huval. “At the same time, we are going to make sure insurers are adequately communicating with policyholders during the claims process.”

The package has industry support.

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“For the most part, IIABL supports the catastrophe claims response reforms proposed by Commissioner Donelon, Sen. Talbot and Rep. Huval,” said Jeff Albright, CEO of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of Louisiana and an influential insurance industry lobbyist. “They represent substantial reforms to make insurers more efficient in paying catastrophe claims without discouraging insurers from selling insurance in Louisiana.”

Details on the Catastrophe Reform Package from today’s press release:

HB 612 by Rep. Huval – Louisiana Fortify Homes Program

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  • Creates the “Louisiana Fortify Homes Program” within the LDI to provide grants for homeowners to retrofit their roofs to meet the “FORTIFIED Roof” standard
  • Commissioner of Insurance would issue rules for eligibility requirements and provide program administration

SB 198 by Sen. Talbot – Three-Adjuster Rule

  • After a third adjuster is assigned to a policyholder’s claim following a catastrophe, the insurer must provide:
    • A summary report of the claim disposition up to that point including information such as the undisputed amount to be covered and a list of issues that remain in dispute
    • A new primary contact that is directly employed by the insurer who will remain on the case until the claim is closed, as well as two methods of contacting them

SB 134 by Sen. Talbot – Additional Living Expenses

  • Clarifies that prohibited use coverage shall be triggered when a civil authority issues either a formal evacuation order or other public safety announcement that the area should be evacuated as a result of a covered peril

SB 264 by Sen. Joseph Bouie – Minimum Capital and Surplus Requirements

  • Raises the minimum capital and surplus requirements for existing property and casualty insurance companies operating in Louisiana from the current $3 million dollars to $5 million by 2026 and $10 million by 2031
  • After September 1, 2022, requires new insurers to meet the $10 million threshold upon application for a Certificate of Authority

HB 280 by Rep. Huval and Sen. Talbot – Catastrophe Response Plan Improvements

  • Requires the written catastrophe response plans created by Louisiana insurers to include certain minimum requirements, including emergency contact information for essential personnel and procedures to address the processing of claims, maintaining communication with policyholders, and more

SB 162 by Sen. Talbot – Policyholder Non-Renewal Protections

  • When the governor declares a state of emergency for a named storm or windstorm, the insurer cannot cancel or nonrenew an insurance policy providing coverage for property located in this state, subject to the declaration of the state of emergency, and the property was damaged as a result of the named storm or hurricane until 90 days after the property has been repaired

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