Special session underway amid skyrocketing insurance premiums

Louisiana State Capitol
Posted at 11:10 PM, Jan 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-31 08:50:40-05

BATON ROUGE, L.a. — A special session focusing on what some call an insurance crisis is now underway in Baton Rouge.

State insurance commissioner Jim Donelon says that people's homes are at stake as insurance costs continue to skyrocket.

That's where a $45 million incentive fund on the table comes into play, also known as the Insure Louisiana Incentive Program. Its appropriations can be found in HB1 by Rep. Jerome Zeringue (R) of District 52, while funding restrictions can be found in HB2 by Rep. Stefanski (R) of District 42.

"Within the confines of what we can and can't do, we've put in some significant safeguards and reporting requirements that will hopefully provide some assurances that the money is going to go toward its intended purpose," Zeringue told KATC. "The thing that gives me a little comfort is the fact that if it's not used, it goes back into the state's general fund, so we won't lose that money."

The fund is part of a bill meant to attract insurance companies to write new policies for homeowners. This comes after several insurance companies either failed or stopped writing these policies south of Interstate 10 — all because of extreme damage from Hurricanes Laura and Ida.

Combined, records show the two hurricanes created upwards of $800,000 in insurance claims. That's to the tune of $22 billion.

Still, legislators say it's too soon to tell which way the Capitol's committees will vote.

Many of those representing districts in the coastal parishes voiced their positions "for" the bill when asked on Monday. Those representing Acadiana's districts, such as District 24 Sen. Gerald Boudreaux, shared similar opinions.

"I would like to see some progress there for those people still struggling, people in the Lake Charles area with blue tarps still over their houses," Boudreaux said. "You know, we're at the state government. The federal government, we've pointed our finger and it hasn't really made a difference which is unfortunate, but I'd like to see a systemic process in place so we address what's broken and how we continue to chip away and make sure we don't make those same mistakes again."

This special session is set to end by no later than 6 pm Sunday, Feb. 5. To see a list of the upcoming meetings of both the Louisiana House and Senate, click here.

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