La. lawmakers question if special session is needed for insurance crisis

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The decision has yet to be made on if a special session will be held to address the insurance crisis in Louisiana. While the insurance commissioner pushes to get an inventive fund up and running, leadership is skeptical about the timing.

“If we were to have a special session, it would need to be sooner rather than later because of the timelines that Commissioner Donelon has put forward,” said Senate President Page Cortez.

Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon wants lawmakers to come back to the capitol early to move forward with a plan he believes will bring more insurance companies to the state. The session would be to approve moving $ 45 million of extra revenue the state is sitting on into an insurance incentive fund.

Some believe the issue should wait until the regular session that begins on April 10.

“I think we can get it done during the session a lot easier,” said Speaker of the House Clay Schexnayder, “Save the taxpayers money on top of it that we don’t need to spend.”

Donelon believes it has to happen now as insurance companies go to the market to buy reinsurance starting in February until the end of May when hurricane season begins. He wants any new companies waiting on the incentive to be in place to help take some of the 120,000 people on the insurer of last resort Louisiana Citizens.

The incentive program regulates the companies that take part in the grants have to stay for five years and write at least $ 20 million in policies. It is based on a program Donelon said was successful and brought in several companies after Hurricane Katrina and Rita.

“If success is 8 of those 12 companies are still writing in Louisiana then that may be a success,” Cortez said. “But if all eight of them are no longer writing in the coastal zones because they were able to get the incentive money for a few years, then their risk pool is now north of the 10-12 corridor… The question I have is if they’re still in the state writing business, why do we have some property owners in the coastal zones that can’t get insurance?”

Donelon will be addressing questions and concerns Friday in the Joint Committee on the Budget meeting.

“I do have the same concerns. Do we need help with insurance? Absolutely, 100%. I think every legislator in this building wants to be able to help. But is this the right path? That’s the answer we need to have to be able to do it,” Schexnayder said.

The commissioner has mentioned there are multiple companies showing they are interested in coming to the state but want to wait for the incentive fund to be active. Some lawmakers want the names of the companies to be revealed so they can be asked questions.

“You need to be able to look and see who these companies are. Are they companies that were here before that defaulted on us and left us?” Schexnayder said.

The decision on the special session will need to be made soon to reach the February goal. It is proposed that if there is a session, it will take place in the last days of January.