HomeHome InsuranceAs Louisiana’s insurance crisis persists, some agents expect improvement in 2024

As Louisiana’s insurance crisis persists, some agents expect improvement in 2024

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – When 2024 began, Louisiana’s property insurance crisis rolled in with it. But two veteran insurance agents in southeast Louisiana think things will improve this year.

“Unfortunately, yes it is continuing,” said Dan Burghardt, owner of Dan Burghardt Insurance. “We’re still working with customers who call to see if we can even trim some of the coverages that they are used to having.”

Stephen Lovecchio, a branch owner with TWFG Insurance, also says the crisis hasn’t ended.

“Not by a long shot,” he said. “The United States, I think, it’s the fifth year in a row that we’ve gone over $100 billion dollars in catastrophe losses. Ironically, the hurricane — which is our big risk — did not really play a big part. But they had major tornadoes and storms all throughout the Midwest.”

Both said they believe property insurance will become more available in 2024. After Hurricane Ida slammed southern Louisiana in August 2021, insurance rates soared and some insurers left the state or stopped writing new coverage.

“Our property insurance in Louisiana will get better,” Lovecchio said. “I think we just hit the tip — Jan. 1 — I think is probably going to be the worst it’s going to be. We’re going to have a few more companies coming in and writing.”

Burghardt said he agrees more insurers are starting to write new policies, but says they are being selective.

“We are seeing companies open up,” Burghardt said. “A lot of them are now accepting applications and reviewing. And the writing has toughened. They’re kind of looking for new roofs, new updates and (are) more restrictive on who and how they want to write, the type of houses that they’re looking for. But everyone’s eligible to call and get quotes.”

Burghardt says, for some consumers, rates will be lower in the year ahead.

“In many cases, it will be cheaper,” he said. “There’s a ton of new roofs out there. New roofs get bigger discounts.”

The agents said they hope the state will continue to fund grants for homeowners to help them get fortified roofs. Last year, grants up to $10,000 were made available to 3,000 homeowners on a first-come, first-served basis through Louisiana’s Fortify Homes Program.

“I think that much more money well-spent over any other grant programs is to get us in a position where the more the fortified roofs, the more the insurance industry is going to look at Louisiana to do business,” Burghardt said. “We already know we’re in a hurricane-prone area.”

Lovecchio said, “The main thing about insurance, you have to keep the wind and the water out of your house. If you can do those two things, your losses are going to be smaller.”

Burghardt added, “This can get you up to 30 percent on your future insurance rates, just by fortifying your roof and minimizing wind damage and water damage. That will save the insurance company a lot of money on claims. You’re looking at mold, sheetrock.”

Next week, Tim Temple will succeed Jim Donelon as insurance commissioner. Temple said he hoped lawmakers would be called into a special session to tackle the insurance crisis, but now it is unclear whether that will happen.

“I think Commissioner Temple is ready to go,” Lovecchio said. “We have a new governor (Jeff Landry, as of Jan. 8), and they’re going to do everything they can. So, if it’s not going to be a special session, they’ll do as much as they can in the regular session.”

Burghardt said he hopes the legislature takes action as soon as possible.

“Putting anything off like the insurance crisis, which affects the economy, could be a bad decision,” he said.

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