Insurance problems complex

February 1, 2007
By Theresa Schmidt

Since Hurricane Rita hit Southwest Louisiana,  insurance has been a huge obstacle for many trying to recover. Many people either can't seem to get insurance or can't afford it and others, especially in Cameron Parish, don't see the point since they haven't been paid for the last disaster. Says Carl Broussard of Cameron Parish: Our recovery is really being slowed down, especially in lower Cameron Parish,  recovery has been stymied."

Those on all sides of the issue came to a forum at the Chamber SWLA to talk about the problem and the uphill road to solutions. Jeff Albright with Louisiana Independent Insurance Agents talked about various options recommended by the Coalition to Insure Louisiana. One is get rid of the Insurance Rating Commission. Albright told those attending the forum, "Let me ask you. You're business people. If you had the government dictating whether or not you could price your product where you thought it needed to be priced, and they were going to hold public hearings and your customers were going to able to come in and decide whether or not they thought they wanted to pay more for your product, how long would you do business in this state?"

He says the only answer is to get more companies to come to the state. Albright says cleaning up the state's image would help. "We all know we had three insurance commissioners go to jail. That doesn't get real good headlines around the nation."

And he says businesses do notice improvements such as strengthening building codes and he urged lawmakers not to do away with them. There's also talk of a federal catastrophe fund...though officials here agree there is no one solution.

Solving Louisiana's insurance crisis is expected to be a big issue in this year's session of the state legislature.