BATON ROUGE (WGNO)— With all the hurricanes and tornadoes we have in Louisiana: Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon wants a special session to get more insurance companies to come to Louisiana since several companies have gone out of business or left the state.
The session would be to approve a $45-million incentive fund for the insurance companies. This incentive program raised many questions from lawmakers today.
“This incentive program is an immediate help and solution to the crisis at hand,” Donelon said.
Donelon said, “There are lots of people telling me that they can’t get coverage from anyone, any company, this will enhance.”
He went on to say, “The companies who write the policies have to stay on that coverage for five years, get monitored on a quarterly basis and then they earn 20 percent of $5-million grant.”
But lawmakers have lots of concerns and questions such as if there needs to be more incentives for insurance companies and if this will actually help fix the problem of repetitive storm damage year after year. Lawmakers also want to make sure that the insurance companies can afford to pay the claims. Yet Donelon argued the time is now.
“People are literally going to lose their houses if we don’t have a special session,” Donelon said.
Lawmakers also criticized residents being forced to get policies through Louisiana CItizens Property Insurance Corporation which is underestimating claims and charging higher rates causing many resident’s premiums to be more than their actual mortgages.
Property Insurance Company of America says they’re interested in the incentive program.
“Our interest in Louisiana to come here and write houses that are south of I-10, primarily mitigated, improved since Hurricane Katrina, also storms in the last two years,” Ned Dolese, CEO of Property Insurance Company of America said.
Though the issue is multi-faceted, both the Insurance Commissioner and lawmakers say better insurance when storms strike needs to be a priority.
Lawmakers are pushing for the special session if held to finish in early February before Mardi Gras. The Insurance Commissioner is pushing for a special session before April’s regular session.