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MONTHLY REPORT
Volume 13, Issue 10
October 2013


Members

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

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

Louis G. Fey, Jr.
Michael Guy
Chris Haik
Lance "Wes" Hataway
Ron Henderson
Senator Eric LaFleur
Scott Landry
LTC John A. LeBlanc
Robert Moorman
Senator Dan "Blade" Morrish
Representative Kirk Talbot
Earl Taylor


Staff


Terrell B. Moss, Director

David Evans,
Supervisor/Research Analyst

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Recent Developments in NFIP Rate Reform

For those of us directly impacted by the 2012 Biggert-Waters reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), October 1 is a daunting date. The first of this month marked the beginning of the implementation of premium increases to achieve actuarially sound rates on primary residences which had benefited from the “grandfathering” of previous flood risk determinations. However, there have been some recent efforts to at least delay the dramatic impact of the new rates on homeowners.

LAWSUIT
Late last month Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney filed an affordability-based lawsuit in the federal district court for the Southern District of Mississippi to try to stop the NFIP rate increases. Commissioner Chaney expressed concern in a press release for the many coastal homeowners who were threatened with bankruptcy with some seeing rate increases of over 3,000 percent.

Earlier this month Florida’s Governor Rick Scott indicated that his state would support Mississippi’s suit. Louisiana’s Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon indicated that he would either join Mississippi’s suit or file a separate action in our state. Commissioner Donelon has been quoted as saying that a more “viable challenge” may be to argue that the drastic rate increases will so devalue homes as to be a “de facto taking of people’s property value” without due process.

JOINT SENATE/HOUSE INSURANCE COMMITTEE HEARING
On October 23 the Louisiana Senate and House Insurance Committees met jointly to hear testimony on the impact of NFIP reform rates. Among those appearing were U.S. Sen. Landrieu’s chief of staff, the Governor’s Coastal Protection & Restoration Authority chairman, the Parish Presidents of Jefferson, St. Charles, St. John and Terrebonne parishes, and the CEO of Greater New Orleans Regional Economic Development.

Of Louisiana’s approximately 480,000 homes and businesses insured through the NFIP, some 18,000 will be immediately impacted and another 50,000 homes will be impacted when they are sold. The Legislators heard and discussed chilling tales of rate increases of up to 6,000 percent and the impact it is already having , not just on individuals, but real estate values, sales and tax assessments. The Legislators will reach out to their fellow Legislators across the states to enlist their support and influence.

FEDERAL LEGISLATION FILED

Near the end of the month, legislation was filed in both houses of Congress by a bipartisan group of sponsors to delay the implementation of the new rates on all primary residences – except those suffering repetitive flood losses – until FEMA completes an affordability study authorized by Biggert-Waters. The study is expected to take another two years and the bill would delay any increases until two years after that – effectively a four year delay.


LPCIC Auto Ad Hoc Committee Meeting

The Louisiana Property & Casualty Insurance Commission’s Auto Ad Hoc Committee met this month to hear presentations on various DWI issues. Mr. J.E. Brignac, Jr. serves as chairman of this committee with Representative Kirk Talbot as vice chairman.

Mr. Joel Chaisson, II, district attorney of the 29th Judicial District and Bill Starr, assistant district attorney, provided background on changes made to the law in 2009 that were interpreted to allow a DWI offender who pled Article 894 to have his suspended driver’s license reinstated without restrictions prior to the successful completion of his probation.

Mr. Chaisson stated that this was never the intent of the 2009 changes and that he would attempt to have the law returned to its former posture. He indicated that he would bring his proposal to the Governor’s Task Force on DWI/Vehicular Homicide for its consideration and endorsement. Mr. Chaisson said he would pursue the support of the district attorneys, sheriffs and others. He hoped the LPCIC would consider it among its recommendations to the Legislature.

Lt. George Breedy, a drug recognition expert (DRE) with the St. Charles Parish Sherriff’s Office, addressed the issue of returning DWI offenders driver’s licenses and the need to increase arrests for drug impaired driving. Lt. Breedy expressed his support for Mr. Chaisson’s position. The lieutenant noted that approximately 50 percent of DWI arrestees are found to have drugs in their system. He elaborated on drug impaired driving enforcement procedures, which sparked a lengthy discussion with committee members.

Mr. Kenneth Trull, deputy director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, reported that the Electronic DWI Arrest Report System is nearing completion and will be tested in a three-parish pilot project to begin before year’s end. The system will replace the current paper system and allow arresting officers to more efficiently and accurately complete their DWI arrest reports, as well as provide the prosecutor with a complete, accurate and timely case report.

Mr. Trull also spoke to the drug impaired driving concerns expressed by Lt. Breedy and noted that the Highway Safety Commission has committed to funding two DRE classes per year until the state has an adequate number of qualified drug recognition experts.

 

The Quiet of the Storm – Hurricane Season 2013

Although hurricane forecasters predicted an above-average season, it appears that 2013 will go down as one of the mildest in the 50-odd years of modern record-keeping. To date, the 12 named storms is slightly above the seasonal average 11, but it has been 45 years since the strongest hurricane of a season was a Category 1. This year only Humberto and Ingrid achieved the minimal hurricane status with neither striking the U.S.

According to many experts, in spite of being in a period of increased activity since 1995, this year hurricane suppressing factors emerged, including abundant sinking air, dry air and possibly dust flowing from the Sahara Desert in North Africa.

The hurricane season does not end until November 30, but it appears that we will be spared any major storms this year. However, as a coastal state it is vital that we remain vigilant and prepared every year, no matter the pre-season forecast.

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