Louisiana

Louisiana DOI to Require Filing of Analysis of Wind Credits

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December 16  |  Louisiana, News  |   Danielle Szeliga
Adopted

Regulation Bulletin

December   13, 2013
   
State: Louisiana
Topic: Louisiana   DOI to Require Filing of Analysis of Wind Credits
Lines Affected: Residential   Property Insurance (see definition in bulletin and specific exemptions of   commercial and surplus lines carriers)
PCI 

 

Executive Summary

The Louisiana Department of Insurance has issued Bulletin No. 2013-08 to require authorized residential property insurers to file an analysis of wind mitigation credits, wind exclusion credits, and deductible credits starting January 1, 2014.  Insurers that do not anticipate making a rate filing between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014 should make an informational filing by December 31, 2014.

Bulletin No. 2013-08

On December 12, 2013, the Louisiana Department of Insurance (DOI) issued Bulletin No. 2013-8.  The bulletin was issued in response to the wide variety of wind-related credits being used in the industry after the 2005 hurricane season.  According to the DOI, wind loss expectations for hurricanes and named storms have changed since 2005 and have rendered premium credits related to the wind peril inaccurate.

In Bulletin No. 2013-8, the DOI:

  • references several rating statutes and regulations, along with the Casualty Actuarial Society’s Statement of Principles Regarding Property and Casualty Insurance Ratemaking, as sources that residential property insurers may use in determining whether their rates and credits are actuarially sound or not unfairly discriminatory;  and
  • requires property and casualty insurers with DOI-approved residential property programs to file with the DOI an analysis to determine the actuarial adequacy and appropriateness of approved all-peril deductible credits, wind-only deductible credits, wind exclusion credits and wind mitigation credits. Insurers may make either an informational filing or a rate filing containing the analysis.  The analysis should consider catastrophe modeling, geographic variations within the state, logical consistency across the spectrum of approved deductible credits, differences in indicated credits by amount of insurance and other relevant considerations.

For purposes of this bulletin, the term “residential property” includes fire and extended coverage insurance and homeowners insurance for one-or-two-family owner-occupied premises and insurance policies written to cover owner-occupied manufactured/mobile homes.  The term does not include commercial properties or unauthorized/surplus lines insurers.

Donelon Asks President to Hold Off on Raising Flood Rates

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November 22  |  Flood, Louisiana, News  |   Danielle Szeliga

Lousiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon used an opportunity to meet with President Obama to present him with a letter asking him to refrain from raising flood insurance rates for residents of his state.

The contents of the letter were not available, but it was written by Michael Hecht, president and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO). Also signing on were the National Association of Homebuilders and the National Association of Realtors.

Donelon, president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, met with Obama Nov. 20 along with NAIC CEO Ben Nelson, Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Thomas B. Leonardi and Noarth Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin to primarily address issues with the Affordable Care Act.

Donelon says he presented three to four-pages of documentation prepared by the three groups about the “unintended consequences the rate increases will have on our economy,” and asking the president for “forbearance.” The documents were delivered ”on behalf of Louisiana first, and two dozen other states to a lesser degree,” the commissioner said during a conference call with reporters after the meeting.

“We have a working coast, not second or vacation homes,” Donelon said. “This is important for Louisiana as well as the rest of the country. We need forbearance from the rate increases mandated by the 2012 law,” he said.

The president agreed to read the letter, but did not make a commitment to act on it, Donelon added.

Asked why Louisiana, where 49 percent of flood insurance policies are subsidized, wanted special treatment while it has declined to open its own insurance exchange and will not accept the additional Medicaid funds states can access through a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Donelon acknowledged that Louisiana is the state that “most benefits” from subsidized flood insurance rates.

GNO and the associations of homebuilders and real estate agents previously outlined their problems with the 2012 Biggert-Waters Act at a Nov. 19 hearing held by a House Financial Services Committee subcommittee. Hecht testified that imposing the rate hikes would be “economically unwise and morally unjust.”

Meanwhile, 15 members of the Senate led by Mary Landrieu, D-La., introduced a bill as an amendment to the defense reauthorization act now on the Senate floor. The bill would delay the rate increases mandated by the 2012 Biggert-Waters Act for as long as four years in some cases, its supporters estimate.

Insurance Department Turns Down State Farm Request to Increase Premiums

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January 30  |  Louisiana, News  |   Danielle Szeliga
Jeff Adelson, NOLA.com | The Times-PicayuneBy Jeff Adelson, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune 
on January 28, 2013 at 7:43 PM, updated January 28, 2013 at 8:57 PM
 Louisiana Insurance CommissionerJim Donelonhas denied a request by State Farm Fire and Casualty Company to increaseinsurancerates by 16.6 percent across the state, according to a release from the Department of Insurance. The denial comes shortly after Donelon turned down a proposal by State Farm that would have allowed the insurer to raise its deductibles in some parishes.
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Insurance Commissioner Jim Don
elon 

State Farm is the largest insurer in Louisiana. Its roughly 300,000 policies account for about 28 percent of all the homeowners’ policies in the state, according to the Department of Insurance.

In an emailed statement, Donelon said he turned down the company’s requested rate increase because it was not “actuarially justified.” The increase would have amounted to about $71.3 million in additional premiums for State Farm, according to the department.

The commissioner noted that last February, the department permitted the company to increase its premiums by 7.8 percent after turning down an initial request to raise rates by 14.3 percent.

State Farm spokesman Gary Stephenson said by email that the “rate need is a real one,” citing the threat of severe damage in coastal parishes as well as more common concerns like thunderstorms, hail and fire.

“Our customers expect State Farm to be strong and able to handle their covered claims when that time comes. That requires that we be responsible in balancing premium with claims costs, and risk, as we look forward.”

The rejection of the premium increase request comes weeks after Donelon denied another State Farm proposal, which would have allowed it to increase deductibles in some parishes and lower premiums for those customers

Donelon said that denial came, in part, because the insurer did not show it intended to write more policies in those parishes, a necessary part of what are known as “regional deductible plans.” Stephenson said the plan was necessary so that the insurers customers in northern Louisiana and elsewhere in the country do not have to pay for the risks of those living near the coast.

Louisiana Citizens Insurance Approves Major Cost-Saving Structural Changes

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December 12  |  Citizens, Louisiana, News  |   Danielle Szeliga

The board of Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Company approved major structural changes Tuesday to save on costs by bringing underwriting policy issuance and claims in-house. The phased transition to the new structure will begin April 1 and will save Citizens more than $6 million in annual expenses — $2.4 million from underwriting and $4 million from claims — according to a report released Tuesday. 

Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance CompanyLouisiana Citizens Property Insurance Company 

 

The board voted 6-2 to pass the proposal, presented by Citizens Chief Claims Officer Quin Netzel and Charter Property Casualty Underwriter Vijay Ramachandran. 

Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon raised concerns about the proposal, agreeing with board member Samuel Little that the old adage “if it aint broke, don’t fix it” could apply here. 

He added he and Citizens would share the responsibility if the plan fails.

“My head’s on the chopping block but it’ll only be after your head’s in the bucket if this fails,” Donelon said to Netzel, who responded, “I’ll accept 100 percent accountability for whatever we put in place.”

State Treasurer John Kennedy supported the proposal. However, after the meeting he added some board members are hesitant as Citizens is now enjoying its first period of relative calm after significant controversies over its handling of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

CITIZENS VOTE

Craig LeBouef Yes
Sen. Dan “Blade” Morrish Yes
James Napper, II Yes
Johnny Reeves Yes
Samuel Little Yes
Eugene Galligan No
Eugene Montgomery Yes
Eric Steven Berger No

“This was a major policy change and it’s something that we have debated for a while,” Kennedy said. “I’m interested in the savings. This company is not on solid footing financially and we’ve got to save money.”

“We’ve hired people to run it and they’ve made a very strong recommendation and put their full faith and credit behind it. And I say ‘okay, here’s your work and we’ll see if it works.’ But if it doesn’t work, we’ll fix it.”

The proposal made Tuesday was in response to 2008 board requests to improve efficiencies and control expenses. It ends the practice of outsourcing underwriting and claims management. These processes will now be completed by Citizens staff rather than by external service providers.

The $6 million plus in savings comes from bringing underwriting activities in-house — saving $2.4 million annually — and restructuring claims by shifting from oversight of service providers to actual adjustment.

An extra 21 to 23 staff would be hired by Citizens and 24 service providers on the underwriting side alone will be cut. 

The first step of the phased approach, to take place in April, will see one quarter of all policy renewals being shifted from service providers to Citizens staff. In June, 50 percent of renewals will be perfumed in-house and 75 percent by August.

In October, Citizens hopes to renew all of its policies in-house while also taking complete control of all new policies issued. By 2014, all remaining policies will be handled in-house.

Flood Maps Topic of Meetings Between FEMA, Local Parish Officials

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December 6  |  FEMA, Louisiana, News  |   Danielle Szeliga
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FEMA officials this week have been meeting with metro area government officials to go over preliminary flood insurance maps and advisory base elevation levels. Most regional governments use advisory base flood elevation levels established in 2006.
In 2008, FEMA created new preliminary flood insurance rate maps, but that was before the new Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System was completed, so now FEMA is coming back and revising the maps.

On Wednesday afternoon, St. Bernard Parish officials met to go over the FEMA Digital Flood Insurance Mappingprocess. Earlier Wednesday, the same FEMA officials went over similar information with Jefferson Parish officials.

And on Tuesday, the FEMA hazard and risk analysis officials met with New Orleans and Plaquemines Parish officials. Finally, on Thursday morning, they will lay out the process and provide various preliminary data to St. Charles Parish officials.

During the next several months, metro New Orleans government officials will advertise the process in their official journals and then begin, likely in February or early March, a 90-day appeals and comment period. During that appeals period, FEMA will work with local parishes to hold public meetings on the preliminary maps.

Residents can file comments, but any formal appeals likely would come from parish or city governments. If FEMA and the local governments cannot resolve the concerns, the matter would go in front of a national scientific resolution panel. Once any appeals are resolved through that process, FEMA would provide a “letter of final determination.”

That letter officially starts the six-month adoption period, during which time local governments must officially adopt the new maps.

The final base-elevation levels are particularly important this year because of the Biggert-Waters National Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, which could increase insurance policy rates based on any change in risk or recent substantial damage, along with other factors.

FEMA still is determining how exactly the reform act will be regulated, but FEMA officials are advising homeowners to talk with their insurance agents to see how the changes could affect them.

Based on initial FEMA estimates, premiums through the National Flood Insurance Program for a $250,000 single-family, one-story home in a high to moderate risk zone that sits 4 feet below base flood elevations could come to $9,500 a year. If the structure is at the base flood elevation level, it would cost about $1,410 a year, and if it’s 3 feet above base flood elevations, it could cost $427 a year.

Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, NOLA.com | The Times-PicayuneBy Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune 
on December 05, 2012 at 6:35 PM, updated December 05, 2012 at 6:57 PM

Louisiana Citizens: More Than 17K Claims from Hurricane Isaac, 85% Settled

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October 17  |  Citizens, Louisiana, News  |   Danielle Szeliga

Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp. reported it has received 17,059 claims from Hurricane Isaac. Ninety-seven percent of those claims have been inspected by company adjusters and 85 percent have been settled.

Loss payments through the second week of October totaled $57.8 million. Citizens expects the ultimate loss and adjustment expense from Isaac to reach $75 million to $100 million. The company will be able to manage the storm’s financial impact through current cash reserves and reinsurance that covers the losses in excess of $75 million.

The quick response was due to enhanced capabilities instituted by the company.

“Since hurricanes Katrina and Gustav, we have significantly enhanced our catastrophe claims adjusting capabilities,” said Quin Netzel, chief claims officer for Louisiana Citizens. “As a result, we have been able to respond to claims from Hurricane Isaac faster than at any time in our history.”

Louisiana Citizens utilized a network of more than 400 adjusters. Claims have generally been inspected within seven days of the report date and closed within 25 days. “Adjusters are working 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for seven days a week to handle all the claims,” said Netzel.

The most common claim has been for wind damage to exterior roofing and corresponding interior water leakage. A significant number of claims (40 percent) have been closed because the damage was less than the special two percent or five percent hurricane deductibles.

Louisiana Citizens policyholders, who sustained damage as a result of Hurricane Isaac and have not yet filed a claim, may do so by contacting their agent or the company at 1-888-568-6455.

Isaac Damaged 59,000 Homes in Louisiana

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October 2  |  Louisiana, News  |   Danielle Szeliga

Hurricane Isaac damaged nearly 59,000 homes as the slow-moving storm crawled across southeast Louisiana, according to the latest damage estimates.

The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness said the most severe damage hit houses and rental units in St. John the Baptist and Plaquemines parishes, where flooding swamped some homes with several feet of water.

The latest estimates — 46,663 owner-occupied houses and 12,289 rental units damaged by the storm — were more than four times higher than the preliminary figures released a week after Isaac made landfall Aug. 28.

The damage data comes from door-to-door inspections of more than 120,000 homes done by the Federal Emergency Management Agency after people registered for federal aid.

“The majority of housing inspections have been completed,” state homeland security Director Kevin Davis said in a statement. “We’ll continue to support parish leaders in their efforts to help communities recover from this devastating storm and will continue to advocate for residents who find themselves without homes as a result of Isaac.”

Isaac came ashore in Louisiana near the mouth of the Mississippi River as a Category 1 storm, relatively weak compared to other named storms that remain fresh in residents’ memories. But its damage, particularly flooding, was significant in several parishes where water inundated homes.

By comparison, the devastation was less than one-third of the housing damage caused by the back-to-back blows of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which hammered Louisiana seven years ago. The combined storms damaged more than 200,000 homes across southern parishes, according to data from the Louisiana Recovery Authority.

Isaac’s damage stretched across homes in 21 parishes, with the largest number of hit properties in Jefferson, Orleans and St. John the Baptist parishes. Isaac harmed nearly 13,000 homes in Jefferson Parish, about 9,800 homes in New Orleans and 6,900 homes in St. John.

But the storm’s harm was harshest in St. John the Baptist Parish, where nearly one in four of the owner-occupied houses hit by Isaac had damage topping $20,000, according to the parish-by-parish data released by the state emergency preparedness office.

Around southeast Louisiana, nearly 5,600 houses and apartments were deemed to have severe damage, including 2,055 houses with damage estimates tallying above $20,000, according to the agency’s figures.

The state emergency preparedness office cautioned that the data might not include every home damaged by Isaac, because some homeowners chose not to register for FEMA aid and didn’t receive home inspections.

Louisiana Citizens: More than 13,000 Claims from Isaac so Far

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September 18  |  Citizens, Louisiana, News  |   Danielle Szeliga

Louisiana’s property insurer of last resort says Hurricane Isaac has resulted in over 13,000 claims and they expect more to come.

Vice President and Chief Claims Officer of Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Quin Netzel said most claims average a little over $5,000. He said they’re expecting between 15,000 and 17,000 claims as a result of Isaac and so far 36 percent of received claims have been inspected, while 4 percent of claims have been closed.

Netzel says a high percentage of claims will likely be less than their hurricane deductible, which is 2 and 5 percent of damage incurred during a storm.

He says claims processing has been slowed by unrepaired damage from previous storms, and about 25 percent of the claims require additional review for prior damage.

Louisiana DOI Makes Substantive Amendments to Original Insurance Moratorium

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September 11  |  Louisiana, News  |   Danielle Szeliga
AdoptedRegulation Bulletin
September 10, 2012
   
State: Louisiana
Topic: Louisiana DOI Makes Substantive Amendments to Original Insurance Moratorium  
Lines Affected: All Insurance Lines
PCI Contact: Tina Crum, 847-553-3804tina.crum@pciaa.net

Joe Woods, 512-334-6638

joe.woods@pciaa.net

 

Executive Summary

The Louisiana Department of Insurance has amended Emergency Rule 26 to clarify its limitation to certain policyholders residing in 23 different parishes and to require these policyholders to notify their carriers before 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, September 25, 2012 that they were impacted by Hurricane Isaac in order to receive the benefits and protections of the emergency rule. 

Amended Emergency Rule 26

On August 26, 2012, the Louisiana Department of Insurance (DOI) issued Emergency Rule 26 in response to Hurricane Isaac which, among other things, affected the ability of policyholders to timely pay their insurance premiums, access their insurance policies, and communicate with insurance companies and their agents on insurance-related matters.  To address these issues, the DOI required insurance companies, including surplus lines carriers, to give policyholders an additional 30 days in which to perform an act required by a statute or regulation, such as providing information or paying premiums. The DOI also required insurers to temporarily suspend adverse action against policyholders until 12:01 a.m. September 25, 2012 or later.  Adverse action included levying penalties or interest against policyholders or canceling, nonrenewing, or failing to reinstate an insurance policy.  However, carriers could still cancel policies for fraud or a material misrepresentation or upon a written request by an insured. 

The original version of Emergency Rule 26 also authorized the DOI to take administrative action against insurers who failed to adhere to the moratorium.  However, Section 4757 of the rule authorized insurers to file a Petition for Exemption from Emergency Rule 26 if they could show that compliance with the rule would result in undue hardship, impairment, or insolvency.

On September 10, 2012, the DOI issued an amended version of Emergency Rule 26 which retains all of the aforementioned provisions but also contains new and substantive amendments to Section 4701. Benefits, Entitlements, and Protections. The amended section:

·         Clarifies that Emergency Rule 26 only applies to policyholders residing in one of the following 23 parishes:  Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John, St. Mary, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Washington, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana.

·         Requires policyholders residing in the 23 parishes to provide written notice to their insurance carriers that they were impacted by Hurricane Isaac in order to obtain the benefits, entitlements, and protections of Emergency Rule 26.  Policyholders who were impacted by the storm must show that they were subjected to events such as an evacuation, displacement, temporary relocation, or loss of power.  Policyholders must notify their carriers before 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, September 25, 2012.

In its amended version of Emergency Rule 26, the DOI failed to modify the original effective (Sunday, August 26, 2012, at 12:01 a.m. Central Standard Time) and expiration dates (Tuesday, September 25, 2012 at 12:01 a.m. Central Standard Time) of the rule which are set forth in Section 4767.  PCI is working with the DOI to clarify how the recent changes to the emergency rule will impact the effective and expiration dates.

Learning from our stormy history

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May 23  |  Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, News, Texas  |   Danielle Szeliga

By KATE SPINNER

Published: Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 10:52 p.m.

FORT LAUDERDALE – The Atlantic churned with so many hurricanes in the 1920s and 1930s that anyone familiar with tropical weather might mistake the storm counts from that period for the past two decades. Today, during a similar multi-decade phase of high hurricane activity, meteorology has advanced so much that a hurricane should take no one by surprise.

HURRICANES:

Scientists look to past decades for disaster
planning lessons

Still they do.

Some of the problems that existed decades ago remain, said meteorologists at the Governor’s Hurricane Conference last week. State meteorologists looked back at some the infamous storms of the late 1800s and early 1900s to find communication errors resembling those made during more recent storms.

Thousands courted danger in staying behind during Hurricane Ike, which struck Galveston, Texas, in 2008, and in Hurricane Katrina, which hit Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in 2005. Despite email, text messaging, smartphones and social media outlets, forecasters still say they have trouble getting their messages across.

“We can get the information to people much more quickly and much more efficiently. The question is: Are we communicating that information in a way that encourages people to take the actions that they need to take?” said Steve Letro, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service office in Jacksonville.

In 1933, 21 tropical storms and hurricanes swept though the western Atlantic, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. It was the busiest hurricane season on record until 2005. But back then there were no satellites, radar or airplanes that flew into hurricanes with high-tech weather equipment. Meteorologists relied on ship captains to report weather observations, such as pressure and wind speed, to warn of brewing storms. Forecasters knew little about how the storms were behaving until they approached land.

Similar to today, newspapers in 1933 wrote about the huge number of storms the Atlantic was spitting out and told of the destruction after they crossed land. At the end of August that year, two major hurricanes — with dangerous 111 mph or stronger winds — threatened the coast of Florida and Texas at the same time, a scenario that would create havoc today.

The first storm hit Florida, between Martin and St. Lucie counties with 125 mph to 130 mph winds. About 5,000 lived in the area and two were killed. The storm dashed across the central part of the state and dragged northward along the west coast. By then it was a tropical storm. The storm ruined the state’s citrus industry and caused $4 million in damage by 1933 standards, said Scott Spratt, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s Melbourne office.

Today, the same hurricane would directly threaten 375,000 people on the East Coast and billions of dollars worth of property statewide.

Satellites would pinpoint the storm before it even became a hurricane.

Meteorologists would track it for days. Three days before landfall, the nation would watch the whole state of Florida become engulfed in the “cone of uncertainty” that forecasters use to predict where a storm will travel. Nobody in Martin or St. Lucie county would be startled to see a hurricane at their doorstep.

Yet, meteorologists wondered if they would evacuate when told. Based on experience with Ike and Katrina, the forecasters were not so sure.

If a storm similar to the 1935 Labor Day hurricane struck the Keys again, meteorologists fear the same mistakes might play out.

Forecasters then knew the hurricane was coming, but it surprised people by growing from a Category 1 to a 5 in less than two days — a rapid intensification that forecasters still have difficulty predicting.

An evacuation train arrived six hours too late, leaving citizens and veterans trapped to ride out the disaster. The storm struck with 185 mph winds, the strongest storm ever to make a U.S. landfall. Rising seas ripped the railroad and caused a 30-mile stretch of destruction. 400 people died — more than half of them veterans — prompting a congressional investigation.

“There was miscommunication between the decision-makers of when they were going to send the evacuation train,” said Fred Johnson, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service office in Key West.

Much of this year’s hurricane conference focused on improving communication among meteorologists, emergency responders and the public to avoid preventable death, such as the thousands who perished during Katrina and the dozens from Ike.

Part of the new strategy this year is to use social media to reach more of the public. National Weather Service offices and the National Hurricane Center have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. The National Hurricane Center also has posted a number of informational videos about hurricanes on YouTube.

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