Nearly two-thirds of insurance rebates that are available to policyholders are unclaimed, according to Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon.
Commissioner Donelon and Department of Revenue Director of Customer Service Kent LaPlace recently held a joint press conference to help make property owners aware of the opportunity to claim the Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens) rebate.
Donelon and LaPlace explained the simple process for claiming the rebates. Donelon was also at the KPLC studios on Thursday and addressed the rebate then.
"Property owners – whether they are a Citizens policyholder or have insurance through another company - can submit their Citizens rebate claim for assessments paid in 2009 through 2012. Tax time is certainly a good time to claim the rebate," said Donelon. "As of the end of last year, more than $255 million or 65 percent of those funds were not claimed."
Donelon said the Citizens assessment is payment for bonds issued by the Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation to cover the damages caused by Hurricane Katrina in excess of their available reinsurance.
The assessment was passed on to property and casualty policyholders by insurance companies. The full amount of the assessment is refundable to consumers once they have paid their annual insurance bill, Donelon said.
Donelon noted that the allotted time to claim funds for 2006 through 2008 has expired and nearly $194 million or over 53 percent of those funds went unclaimed.
Donelon urged policyholders to check the declaration page of their property insurance policy to find the Citizens assessment amount they paid. The option to claim the 2009 assessment will expire after December 31, 2013.
He said claiming your rebate for 2009 through 2012 can be done one of three ways:
1.) Claim the rebate as a tax credit on your Louisiana Income Tax Return due each May.
2.) Claim the rebate online. Visit www.revenue.louisiana.gov/fileonline and click on the "Citizens Insurance Rebate" option. Policyholders claiming the rebate electronically can choose to receive it by direct deposit, paper check or a debit card.
3.) Claim the rebate by filling out form R-540INS. As soon as you pay the insurance premium that includes the Citizens assessment, you can fill out a short rebate form for each year that you paid the Citizens assessment, which is form R-540INS. You can mail or fax it in, along with your insurance declaration page for that year, which shows the amount of your paid assessment. Forms for all four calendar years are located on the LDI and LDR websites.
Donelon said businesses may claim the Citizens rebate by filing the Department of Revenue Form R-620INS or by filing a current-year or amended tax return.
He said a copy of the insurance policy declaration page showing proof of the assessment amount must be attached to any claim form. Individual policyholders may also claim the rebate by amending a prior-year tax return.
LaPlace warned, "Be careful not to claim the rebate on both the INS form and the tax return since this will delay your refund." He also reminds taxpayers not to claim the total insurance premium, only the Citizens assessment. Claiming the total premium will delay your refund as well. LaPlace added that property owners must not forget to include a copy of their insurance policy declaration page showing proof of the assessment amount when requesting the Citizens rebate using form R-540INS.
LaPlace recommended that those who pay the Citizens assessment on more than one property send in a single rebate form for all properties each year rather than a separate rebate form for each property. An R-INS Supplement form should be used for more than one property. Otherwise, the second claim will automatically be delayed for review.
Donelon is embarking on a statewide public awareness campaign during February and March to discuss the Citizens rebate, as well as residential property storm mitigation incentives. There are state tax deduction and insurance premium discounts available to homeowners who strengthen their homes against storms and hurricanes.
Donelon said these are important savings available to the public this tax season and beyond.
"Property owners may be eligible for a state tax deduction for voluntarily retrofitting their home, and insurance premium discounts for voluntarily building or retrofitting their home to comply with the Louisiana State Uniform Construction Code, which will make their home more hurricane resistant," said Donelon.
He said this includes, but is not limited to, such building applications as roof deck attachment, roof bracing, roof covering, roof-to-wall connections, secondary water barrier, and opening protection.
For more information on the Citizens assessment rebate, visit the Department of Insurance website at www.ldi.la.gov.
Click on the Citizens Insurance Rebate link on the home page to access the necessary forms and for more information on the Louisiana State Uniform Construction Code state tax deduction and insurance premium discounts.
Citizens assessment rebate forms can also be found on the Department of Revenue website at www.revenue.louisiana.gov/citizens.