‘It shouldn’t be a battle’: New insurance reform laws center accountability, transparency

Hurricane Season 2022: Staying Strong
Published: Jul. 8, 2022 at 11:13 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Bracing 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 are still not settled.

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

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

Collins said dealing with insurance has been no short of a nightmare, saying the company refused to pay what he needed to get his home repaired. He went through 27 adjusters with six different companies, and then got lawyers involved.

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

Between his insurance and mortgage companies, Collins tell 7News it’s been a non-stop 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 our house. The mortgage company wants the house fixed but they wont release the money to fix the house, which doesn’t make any sense,” Collins said.

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

“In committee we heard story after story about the long amount of time and the delay tactics that were used and getting people, getting homeowners what was contractually obligated to them which is their money after being hit by these devastating hurricanes,” Sen. Jeremy Stine said.

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

“The Storm Victims’ Insurance Reform Package, as you recall, a lot centered around transparency around the insurance industry bringing accountability to some of these bad actors in the insurance industry,” Stine said.

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

“That will swiftly bring, hopefully what’s due to the homeowner without long drawn out litigation and this is a way to speed up that process and that’s just one piece of the storm victims insurance reform package,” Stine said.

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

“Much credit to representative Farnum to getting that passed it’s going to help those mortgage companies release those funds quicker to the homeowner,” Stine said.

Sen. Stine had other insurance reform bills that didn’t pass this session. He plans to re-worked them for continued reform.

Now, Collins’ home is finally in the last stages of reconstruction, but the stress still lingers.

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

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

Storm Victims’ Insurance Reform Package + Additional Insurance Reform Legislation:

  • SB 209 (ACT 683) (Stine) authorizes the Commissioner of Insurance to order certain penalties to persons engaging in an unfair method of competition or an unfair or deceptive act or practice.
  • SB 210 (ACT 68) (Stine) authorizes fines in lieu of suspension or revocation of certificate of authority for foreign or alien insurers.
  • SB 212 (ACT 591) (Stine) creates and provides for the Hurricane Mediation Program.
  • SR 140 (Stine) urges the Commissioner of Insurance to study the issue of insurers failing to timely pay property damage claims after a presidentially or gubernatorially declared disaster or emergency.
  • SB 163 (ACT 80) (Talbot/Stine) merged with Stine’s SB 232; requires during a declared state of emergency, the insurer must send the claimant a catastrophe claim process disclosure form.
  • SB 198 (ACT 263) (Talbot/Stine) establishes that during a declared state of emergency or disaster, the insured be provided with a summary of their policy information within a six-month period of time following the assignment of a claim 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 Insure Louisiana Incentive Program.
  • HB 521 (ACT 157) (Huval) requires every insurer and every health maintenance organization to maintain a catastrophe response plan.
  • HB 539 (Firment) prohibits contractors from interpreting an insurance policy or adjusting a property insurance claim on behalf of an insured.
  • HB 682 (Brown/Stine) merged with Stine’s SB 330; establishes a statewide claims adjuster database.

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