The new insurance reform laws focus on accountability and transparency

Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) – Preparing for the storm and the damage it brings is only half the battle when it comes to hurricanes.

For many, the real nightmare begins when dealing with insurance, and in Southwest Louisiana that nightmare continues for some, as their hurricane claims have yet to be settled.

Hurricane Laura swept through Southwest Louisiana in August 2020 causing massive destruction and sending trees through the roof of Tyler Collins’ home.

“That’s nothing compared to what insurance companies do,” Collins said. “They just cause so much: anxiety, frustration, everything, every step of the way. The hurricane was child’s play compared to what the insurance companies are doing to people.”

Collins said getting insurance has been nothing short of a nightmare, saying the company refused to pay what he needed to repair his home. He went through 27 adjusters with six different companies and then involved lawyers.

“The first time they sent us our biggest check, it was $75,000 and that was really going to help bring the house together. The house was destroyed,” Collins said.

Between his insurance and mortgage companies, Collins tells 7News it’s been a constant battle.

“I didn’t know it would be such a headache, such a battle to get the money from the mortgage company just to fix up our house. The mortgage company wants the house fixed, but they won’t release money to fix the house, which makes no sense,” Collins said.

It’s a story many people share, and now lawmakers have made some progress trying to fix the process.

“At the committee we heard story after story about the long time and the delay tactics that were used and finding people, getting homeowners what they were contractually owed, which is their money after being hit by these devastating hurricanes,” Senator Jeremy Stine said.

Stine is among several who authored insurance reform measures this past legislative session.

“The hurricane insurance reform package, as you may recall, was very focused around transparency around the insurance industry and bringing accountability to some of these bad actors in the insurance industry,” Stine said.

Stine explains that the new laws put more pressure on insurance companies to take action more quickly. For example, the hurricane mediation program.

“This will quickly bring, hopefully, what is owed to the homeowner without a long drawn out court process and this is one way to speed up that process and this is just one part of the storm insurance reform package, ” said Stine.

Outside of that reform package, other new laws address the mortgage company’s role in the storm recovery process.

“A lot of credit to Rep. Farnum for passing that, it will help those mortgage companies release those funds faster to the homeowner,” Stine said.

Senator Stine had other insurance reform bills that did not pass this session. He plans to rework them for ongoing reform.

Now, the Collins home is finally in the final stages of rebuilding, but the stress still lingers.

“It shouldn’t be like this. It doesn’t have to be a battle,” Collins said.

A battle he hopes doesn’t have to happen next time.

Hurricane Insurance Reform Package + Additional Insurance Reform Legislation:

  • SB 209 (ACT 683) (Stine) authorizes the Insurance Commissioner to order certain penalties for persons who engage in an unfair method of competition or an unfair or deceptive act or practice.
  • SB 210 (ACT 68) (Stine) authorizes penalties in lieu of suspension or revocation of certificate of authority for foreign or foreign insurers.
  • SB 212 (ACT 591) (Stine) establishes and provides for the Hurricane Mediation Program.
  • SR 140 (Summer) requires the Insurance Commissioner to study the issue of insurers’ failure to timely pay property damage claims following a presidential or gubernatorial-declared disaster or emergency.
  • SB 163 (ACT 80) (Talbot/Stine) joined Stine’s SB 232; requires that during a declared emergency, the insurer must send a disaster claim process disclosure form to the claimant.
  • SB 198 (ACT 263) (Talbot/Stine) stipulates that during a declared state of emergency or disaster, insureds are provided with a summary of their policy information within a six-month period of time after a claim is assigned to an adjuster.
  • SB 264 (ACT 69) (Bouie) provides for minimum capital and surplus requirements for certain domestic insurers.
  • SB 412 (ACT 776) (Talbot) establishes the Louisiana Insurance Incentive Program.
  • HB 521 (ACT 157) (Huval) requires every insurer and every health maintenance organization to maintain a disaster response plan.
  • HB 539 (Firming) prohibits contractors from interpreting an insurance policy or adjusting a property insurance claim on behalf of an insured.
  • HB 682 (Brown/Stine) joined Stine’s SB 330; creates a database of claim adjusters nationwide.

Copyright 2022 KPLC. All rights reserved.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.