Geymann proposes more penalties for insurance companies

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 7:44 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - As Lake Area residents push forward with repairs, insurance reform remains a big topic in the legislature.

Wednesday, the Senate Insurance Committee considered two bills to help make sure storm victims are treated right and get what they deserve from insurance companies.

Additional living expenses for storm victims and more penalties for bad faith on the part of insurance companies are issues taken up in committee.

Members of the committee heard from Robin Baudoin from Calcasieu Parish, whose home was destroyed in Hurricane Laura. Baudoin says she and thousands of others cannot get enough money to rebuild.

“The past year has been absolute hell for me and my children,” Baudoin said. “It has been 272 days today since Hurricane Laura hit. I still haven’t been able to get enough money to rebuild. Hurricane season is coming again.”

Representative Brett Geymann proposed HB 585 to increase the penalty against insurance companies who act in bad faith when they fail to pay within 30 days of receiving proof of loss in a disaster. Geymann’s bill would allow consumers to get field adjuster’s reports or notes. It passed through the committee.

HB 458 by Representative Gabe Firment aims to clarify when additional living expenses must be paid.

“The key thing is to define what is uninhabitable. That’s the language most of the policies use,” Firment said.

Insurance industry officials predict people might be able to get living expenses with scant damage.

“We’re just looking for something that is not going to put us in an automatic obligation to owe ALE (additional living expenses) when minor damage to the house happens where it is not truly uninhabitable, coupled with problems with the power grid. We don’t want to be in a position of insuring the power grid,” said Tom Clark, with Allstate.

Geymann’s bill now moves to the Senate floor. Firment’s bill will get more work in the insurance committee.

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