Louisiana Department of Insurance
MONTHLY REPORT
Volume 11, Issue 8
August 2011


Members
Commissioner Jim Donelon
Theodore "Ted" Haik, Jr., Chair
Jeff Albright, Vice Chair

Raymond J. Aleman, Sr.
Lee Ann Alexander
Paul Buffone
Sheriff Greg Champagne
Representative Page Cortez
Manuel DePascual
Nick Gautreaux
Michael Guy
Chris Haik
Lance "Wes" Hataway
Representative Chuck Kleckley
LTC John A. LeBlanc
Senator Eric LaFleur
Ann Metrailer
Robert Moorman
Senator Dan "Blade" Morrish
Stephen Schrempp
Earl Taylor
Rina Thomas


Staff
Terrell B. Moss, Director

David Evans,
Supervisor/Research Analyst

Katie Walsh, Administrative Assist./Research Analyst

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First Hurricane of the Season to Make Landfall—Are You Prepared?

With the recent landfall of Hurricane Irene and the six year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina upon us, Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon urges everyone to check their insurance policies. Although Louisiana has been spared a direct hit from a hurricane since Ike in 2008, forecasters say that there is a 45 percent chance that a hurricane will make landfall in the state in the next five to six weeks.

Water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico provide a “breeding ground for the worst storms,” Donelon said. “Hurricanes generally don’t like cool water, which is why they spring up in the summer and early fall.” Forecasters become concerned when water temperatures rise above 80 degrees. The temperature of the Gulf waters was recently recorded at 90 degrees.

Commissioner Donelon urges all homeowners to make sure their policies are up to date and to read the declarations page so you know what your policy does and does not cover. Flood insurance is also encouraged even if homes are not in a determined flood zone or in the direct path of a storm. In 2009, Act 134 was adopted to limit insurance companies to one named-storm deductible per year. The bill was drafted after concern over what would happen if areas of the state were again hit by two named storms in one year, as in the case of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

Back to School Safety

The end of summer means back to school time for many children. This time of the year can be a tough adjustment for children and parents alike. Children may be more likely to run after their buses or dart across the street without looking both ways. Because of situations such as these, back to school time can also be a tough adjustment for drivers.

Motorists should be cautious and follow these back to school safety tips:

  • Always drive the posted speed limit in school zones—for safety purposes and to avoid costly fines.  Also slow down and drive with caution in residential areas—children can be unpredictable!
  • All 50 states require motorists in both directions on undivided roadways to stop for school buses that have stopped to let children enter or exit the bus.
  • Never pass a school bus on the right side.
  • Teen Drivers

    A new school year also means many new teen drivers on the roads. Currently, the Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection (STANDUP) Act, a provision establishing minimum requirements for state graduated driver licensing (GDL), is pending in Congress. STANDUP would restrict nighttime driving, limit the number of passengers in a teen’s car, prohibit the use of cell phones while driving, and issuance of permits and licenses with specific age requirements through a gradual, multi-phased process.

    A survey conducted by Allstate found that nearly 60 percent of people surveyed favored the national law. It also reported that 81 percent of respondents rate teenagers as “average” or “poor” drivers.

    “Car accidents are the number-one killer of teenagers in the United States, and the provision, if enacted, would slow this dangerous trend and spare thousands of families the heartbreaking loss of a teenage child,” says Melissa Shelk, vice president of federal affairs for the American Insurance Association (AIA).   “The idea behind GDL laws is simple: minimize risk while maximizing experience. With GDL programs, teens gain driving privileges commensurate with their developing skills and good judgment.”

    Other findings of the survey include:

  • Seventy-six percent back a minimum age of 16 to receive a learner’s permit, and 69 percent favor requiring three stages of licensing.
  • Seven in 10 Americans favor restricting unsupervised nighttime driving for those under age 18, and 65 percent support restricting the number of non-family passengers for drivers under 18.
  • When asked about the prohibition of cell phones or texting while driving for younger drivers, 81 percent are in favor.
  • Support for STANDUP and its individual provisions crosses all age groups, geographic regions and political affiliation.

    GDL Requirements in Louisiana

    At this time, Louisiana’s GDL law has a three stage licensing process for minors.

  • At age 15, a driver can acquire a Learner’s Permit after completing 30 hours of classroom instruction and 8 hours of behind the wheel driving instruction. They must pass a visual examination, along with written road knowledge and sign tests. Once passed, the teen is only authorized to drive with a licensed parent or guardian, a sibling at least age 18 or an adult at least age 21. The holder of the learner’s permit must maintain it for a minimum of 180 days and may not change to the intermediate stage until their 16th birthday.
  • An Intermediate License can be obtained at age 16 after completing the Learner’s Permit requirements and completing at least 50 hours of supervised driving (15 of these at night) and passing an on-road driving test. Drivers with an Intermediate License are prohibited from driving between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless accompanied by a licensed parent or guardian, a sibling at least age 18 or an adult at least age 21. The Intermediate driver may not transport more than one non-immediate family passenger who is under age 21 between the hours of 6 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless accompanied by a licensed parent, guardian or adult at least age 21. The Intermediate License must be held until the driver’s 17th birthday.
  • A Full Class “E” License may be acquired at age 17 after successfully completing the Learner’s Permit and Intermediate License stages and demonstrating that there have been no at-fault accidents nor convictions for moving, seat belt, curfew, or drug or alcohol violations for 12 consecutive months. A modified set of standards apply for first time applicants 17 years of age or older.
  • Meeting Notice

    The Louisiana Property and Casualty Insurance Commission will hold a meeting on Wednesday, September 14, at 1:30 p.m. in the Plaza Hearing Room at the Poydras Building, 1702 N. 3rd Street, Baton Rouge.