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MONTHLY REPORT
Volume 13, Issue 3
March 2013


Members

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

Raymond J. Aleman, Sr.
Lee Ann Alexander
J.E. Brignac, Jr.
Paul Buffone
Stephen F. Campbell
Anne Cassity
Sheriff Greg Champagne
Representative Greg Cromer

Manuel DePascual (Alternate)
Louis G. Fey, Jr.
Michael Guy
Lance "Wes" Hataway
Ron Henderson
Senator Eric LaFleur
Scott Landry
LTC John A. LeBlanc
Ann Metrailer (Alternate)
Robert Moorman
Senator Dan "Blade" Morrish
Chris Roy, Jr.
Representative Kirk Talbot
Earl Taylor


Staff


Terrell B. Moss, Director

David Evans,
Supervisor/Research Analyst

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News Briefs

Citizens Rebates:  Many Louisiana taxpayers are leaving millions of property insurance rebates unclaimed each year.  At the end of 2012, more than $255 million remained unclaimed.

State tax time is nearing and you can claim a tax credit for your assessment from Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.  You will find the amount you’ve paid on the declaration page of your property insurance policy.   This assessment will continue for the next 12 years.  All property owners are eligible for the rebate regardless of their insurance company.

Even if you don’t owe state taxes, you are still entitled to claim the money through a cash rebate.  Attach a copy of the declaration page that comes with your policy each year and fill out a one-page form with only a few questions on it including your name, address, policy number and the amount of your assessment.  Mail or fax it to the Department of Revenue and you will receive a check or debit card within two weeks.

If you have any questions, visit the Department of Insurance website at www.ldi.la.gov.

LA Citizens CEO Retiring: Richard Robertson, CEO of LA Citizens, is heading back to Michigan on June 1 after nearly three years with LA Citizens. Prior to coming to Louisiana, he was general manager of the Michigan Basic Property Insurance Association (Michigan FAIR Plan) in Detroit. 

During his tenure at LA Citizens, the Katrina and Rita class action lawsuits were finally settled. Mr. Robertson also experienced his first hurricane with the arrival of Isaac, which resulted in over $75 million in claims payments.  In order to reduce costs, Mr. Robertson has brought the underwriting and claims-handling in house and successfully guided depopulation efforts. 

“We’re going back home - going to take it easy,“ Robertson said.  “But I’ve enjoyed my time here. The staff has been great and I’m proud of what I’ve been a part of and what we’ve accomplished.”

Recent Hailstorm:  Hurricanes are usually the storms most people in Louisiana refer to in conversation, but a recent hailstorm on the West Bank of Jefferson Parish got most residents’ attention. Neighborhoods in Harvey and Marrero sustained the worst damage. During the 35-minute storm, yards were left covered in ice and streets were flooded from the deluge. The hail ranged in size from gravel to golf balls. The strong winds made the assault on roofs, windows, siding, cars and vegetation even more significant.  Many residents were scared and, convinced a tornado would surely follow, sought shelter within their homes.

The storm also affected areas from the French Quarter to St. Bernard Parish.  Property owners who file a claim will have another large deductible to pay to fix the damage following the deductibles paid for Hurricane Isaac claims from August of 2012.  However, homeowners should not worry about filing a claim for the most recent event according to Commissioner Donelon.  A homeowner who has been with an insurance company for three years or longer cannot be dropped or face a higher premium because of a claim from an act of God, he said.

So far, LA Citizens has paid policyholders $15 million for claims related to the storm. It is projected that payments could reach $30 to $40 million. 

Louisiana was spared from a more recent hail storm that swept through Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia causing millions in damage.  In Jackson, hail the size of baseballs was reported that caused extensive damage in that area. 

Deadline Extended: The deadline for Louisiana property owners to file claims for flood–related damages due to Hurricane Isaac has been extended until April 22.  The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has given this extension for filing because access to homes was limited by damage and high water. If there are any questions, please visit the NFIP website at www.floodsmart.com.


Teen Deaths While Driving on the Rise

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has conducted a new study that shows that teen deaths while driving are increasing.  Deaths of 16- and 17 year-olds in auto crashes rose 19 percent during the first six months of 2012 from 202 to 240, according to GHSA.  In the past several weeks, two horrific crashes made the national news in which multiple teen deaths were involved in each crash. 

The numbers are better than five years ago, but researchers are still not sure of the factors leading to the increases of teen fatalities on the road. Several theories for the increases have been discussed. Most states have graduated licensing laws in effect, but it’s possible the effectiveness and benefits from graduated licensing laws are leveling off. States need to continue to make improvements in those laws such as restricting teen drivers to one or zero non-family passengers. 

Distracted driving is another factor involving teen drivers with limited driving experience. The numerous distractions inside and outside the vehicle are overwhelming to all drivers but especially to those with little experience.  There needs to be more data collected in order to measure how distracted driving is affecting the fatality rate of teen drivers.   

Louisiana’s graduated licensing laws include the main c­­riteria of beginner age restrictions, driver education hours and road experience, passenger restrictions, curtailed hours of driving and age of licensing.  In recent years, Legislators increased the required hours of teen supervised driving, restricted cell phone use for teens and banned texting for all drivers.

Strengthening graduated driving laws and improving compliance for the existing laws are two effective means of reducing teen driving crashes and fatalities.  

Warmer Temperatures and Hurricanes

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has attempted to project how many of the most damaging hurricanes could result from warmer air temperatures as compared to the well-known effect of warmer water surface temperatures. An international team of scientists wanted to determine how many of the most extreme Katrina-strength hurricanes these higher temperatures may produce. 

In the study, scientists looked at storm surges, which are often the most damaging portion of these storms.  A storm surge is an abnormal rise in water, over and above normal high tide, pushed to shore by high winds from these storms.  A large portion of the coastal damage from Hurricane Katrina was caused by high storm surges according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The researchers studied storm surges going back to 1923, and then related those to how warm the air temperatures were at the time the surges occurred. They then used computer models to project how storm surges might be influenced by future warming.  

According to their research, storm surge can be a more accurate gauge of a hurricane’s severity than wind speed. Most people identify storm intensity with wind speed, but that is not always what causes the most damage. The severity of the impact can also be affected by the speed at which the storm travels over an area. In the case of Sandy in the Northeast and Isaac in Louisiana, their intensity and destruction were increased by the slow movement of the storms.

The study indicates there will be an increase in the number of hurricanes of all magnitudes, but the increase will be greatest for the most extreme events due to warming temperatures over the last century and further warming predicted for the future.1

Source 1: PropertyCasualty360 3/19/13