Volume 13, Issue 6
Commissioner Jim Donelon
Theodore "Ted" Haik, Jr., Chair
Jeff Albright, Vice Chair
Raymond J. Aleman, Sr.
Lee Ann Alexander
J.E. Brignac, Jr.
Stephen F. Campbell
Sheriff Greg Champagne
Representative Greg Cromer
Manuel DePascual (Alternate)
Louis G. Fey, Jr.
Lance "Wes" Hataway
Senator Eric LaFleur
LTC John A. LeBlanc
Ann Metrailer (Alternate)
Senator Dan "Blade" Morrish
Chris Roy, Jr.
Representative Kirk Talbot
Terrell B. Moss, Director
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The Season of the Hurricane
Hurricane season is well underway as, for the fourth year in a row, a named storm has developed in the month of June. Andrea became a tropical storm on June 5 and made landfall the next day on the upper west coast of the Florida peninsula bringing heavy rainfall and localized flooding. Then on June 19, Barry became the second tropical storm of the season with the Yucatan suffering flooding from its severe rains.
Insurance Commissioner Donelon recently held a press conference to initiate his annual “Storm Tour” during which he urges homeowners to prepare for the hurricane season now upon us. The Commissioner stated that his primary message to property owners is to know what your insurance coverage is and to know what your coverage is not, particularly as it applies to your deductible.
The Commissioner made these specific points:
- Hurricane season is here – and now is a good time to review your insurance policies.
- You can avoid potential sticker shock by knowing whether you have a wind and hail, named storm or hurricane deductible. These deductibles are usually 2 or 5 percent of the insured value of your home or business.
- You can find your deductibles on the declarations page of your policy – or call your agent for guidance.
- If you have questions, please call the Louisiana Department of Insurance at 1-800-259-5300.
The Commissioner also emphasized the benefits of flood insurance and that storm mitigation measures can protect homes from storm damage and provide insurance premium discounts, as well.
Bill Hatchett, a wind mitigation surveyor, provided an overview of qualifying mitigation measures for new and existing homes to comply with the state’s Uniform Construction Code or the more stringent Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety’s Fortified Homes standard. Among these are hip-designed roof, architectural grade shingles, impact resistant windows, hurricane shutters, hurricane straps and sealed roof deck.
NTSB Safety Report Urges .05 BAC Threshold
Last month the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) included its cumulative recommendations for reducing alcohol-related highway deaths and crashes in a Safety Report following a year-long study. The NTSB noted that although alcohol-impaired crash fatalities declined 53 percent over the last 30 years (from 21,113 in 1982 to 9,878 in 2011), since 1995 the percentage of alcohol-related fatalities in relation to total highway fatalities has remained nearly one in three.
The NTSB recommends 19 initiatives in the report to promote stronger laws, improved enforcement strategies, innovative adjudication programs and accelerated development of new in-vehicle alcohol detection technologies.
One recommendation calls on the states to reduce the legal presumptive (or “per se”) blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit from 0.08 to 0.05. The NTSB supports this recommendation based on analysis of independent studies that indicate impairment with a “significantly elevated crash risk at BAC levels near 0.05.” Further, the NTSB concludes that BAC levels higher than 0.05 are viewed by respected traffic safety and public health organizations around the world as posing unacceptable risk for driving and more than 100 countries have established a BAC limit of 0.05 or lower.
NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman stated in the report, “Our goal is to get to zero deaths because each alcohol-impaired crash is preventable. Alcohol-impaired crashes are not accidents. They are crimes that can - and should - be prevented. The tools exist. What is needed is the will.”
In addition to detailing and supporting the recommendations, the 104 page Safety Report examines the scope of the impaired driving problem, the history of reduction efforts and scientific studies on alcohol impairment and driving. (Report available: “Reaching Zero: Actions to Eliminate Alcohol-Impaired Driving.”)
The Distracted Driving Plot Thickens:
Texting While Bicycling
A recent article on distracted driving behavior includes the author’s amusing account of two encounters with texting cyclists – one where she was almost run over while hiking on a trail and the other where she barely avoided a cyclist who swerved in front of her car.
While the author’s how-did-we-get-here-and-what’s-next whimsy is engaging and may raise a smile, the main focus of her article is serious – distracted driving and public awareness. She notes that Florida recently became the 41st state to ban texting while driving a motor vehicle and discusses limitations within its law. She also takes notice of the distracted driving public awareness campaigns conducted by private sector insurers, auto makers and cell phone providers, noting the addition of AT&T’s “#ItCanWait” campaign. (1)
As for a specific prohibition against texting while bicycling, it appears that only California and Illinois have considered statewide legislation in the last few years with neither enacting a ban.
(Source 1): PropertyCasualty360.com, “Texting While Biking: Darwin Would Not Approve,” May 30, 2013
Donelon Attends Post-Tornado Forum in Oklahoma
Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak hosted an educational post-natural disaster forum earlier this month attended by insurance regulatory officials from seven states: Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey and Wisconsin. The forum included a tour of Oklahoma areas devastated by tornadoes on May 19-20 and May 30-31 that have so far resulted in over 70,000 claims totaling nearly $562 million.
Commissioner Doak, in noting attendance by regulators impacted by Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina, termed the forum “an important opportunity to share support and collaborate on better assisting consumers in the aftermath of these tornadoes.”
NAIC President/Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon included in his remarks, “Seeing the devastation firsthand is a stark reminder that extreme weather can hit any of our states. Whether it’s a tornado, a hurricane, an earthquake or a wildfire, all our states are subject to disaster. We value opportunities to come together following disasters to learn from the efforts of our fellow regulators as they work to help their communities recover and rebuild.”