Louisiana Department of Insurance Office of Consumer Advocay
Volume 1, Issue 2

Councilman Byron Lee
Sixth Annual Seniors
Day Luncheon
5/5/2010
12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
John A. Alario Center
2000 Bayou Segnette Blvd.
Jefferson, LA

Baton Rouge Association of Health Underwriters
5/11/2010
7:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
LA State Archives Building
Essen Lane
Baton Rouge, LA

Congressman Joseph Cao
AAA Health Fair
5/15/2010
10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
University of New Orleans
Human Performance Center
2000 Lake Shore Drive
New Orleans, LA

D.I.V.A. Conference
5/17/2010
6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Jones Creek Reg. Library
6222 Jones Creek Road
Baton Rouge, LA

Councilwoman
Ronnie Edwards
Advisory Council Meetings
5/24/2010
6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Comm. Bible Baptist Church
1729 Monte Sano Ave.
Baton Rouge, LA

 

HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS SALES TAX HOLIDAY

The 2010 Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday is Saturday, May 29 and Sunday, May 30.

For more information, call the Louisiana Department of Revenue, Public Affairs Division at (225)-219-2156 or (225)-219-2158.

 

To find out if Consumer Advocacy will be in your area or to request a speaker for your organization or group, call (225) 219-0619 or send an email to
consumeradvocacy@ldi.la.gov

If you no longer wish to receive this newsletter please send an email to the following address with "REMOVE" in the subject line.
consumeradvocacy@ldi.la.gov

Why you need to get flood insurance

Floods Can Happen Anywhere, Any Time;

Evaluate Your Need for Flood Insurance Now

Floods are consistently the most common, costly and deadly natural disaster Americans face each year—ninety percent of all natural disasters in the nation involve flooding, and Louisiana residents cannot afford to ignore this threat. As a matter of fact, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) statistics show that a home in a high-risk area is three times more likely to be damaged by a flood than to be damaged by a fire during a 30-year mortgage.

Many people in Louisiana believe that flooding is localized to coastal areas and low lying areas designated as a "flood zone." However, there are many flood risks to consider, including hurricanes, rapid accumulation of rainfall, overflowing rivers and lakes, broken levees, outdated or clogged drainage systems and building and development, which can change the natural drainage creating new flood risks.

History has shown the residents of Louisiana that flooding can be quite costly. Losses caused by flood are not covered in a standard homeowners, renters or business insurance policy, and between 20 and 25 percent of all flood insurance claims come from areas with a low risk for flooding.  According to the NFIP, even one inch of water in a home can cause up to $7,800 in damage. The cost of hardwood flooring, carpeting, and drywall is on the rise so, imagine having to repair damages that your property policy does not cover. 

Currently only 29 percent of Louisiana households have flood insurance.  So before you’re faced with rising water in your area, the Office of Consumer Advocacy offers this information to help you get smart about your flood insurance options.

Do not wait until a storm is coming to purchase flood insurance. It generally takes 30 days after purchase (or a change in the policy) for a flood insurance policy to go into effect.  Contact your insurance producer to purchase flood insurance now.  “It is better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!"

Why and how to file a complaint

“That’s not what they said!”
                  “Can they do that?”
                            “What does that mean? "
                                                     “My policy said that they should pay this!”

When dealing with insurance issues, consumers often have many unanswered questions.   Even after reading a policy or discussing a situation with a producer, a consumer may have many unanswered questions.  In some instances, consumers may ask themselves: Should I file a complaint?

Well, the Louisiana Department of Insurance (LDI) can help you. The LDI licenses and regulates insurance companies, producers, adjusters, and brokers to operate in this state. If you believe that one of these licensees hasn’t acted in accordance with your policy provisions and the insurance laws (regulations) of Louisiana, consider filing a complaint.

Since insurance language and state regulations may not be familiar to most of us, we often don’t know if we should file a complaint or handle our concerns as an inquiry. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) defines the terms as follows:

A complaint is any written communication that expresses dissatisfaction with a specific person or entity subject to regulation under the state’s insurance laws. An oral communication, which is subsequently converted to a written form, will meet the definition of a complaint for this purpose.

An inquiry is any oral or written communication that is not a complaint, such as a request for general information or an expression of an opinion regarding an insurance-related issue that may or may not require a response by the department of insurance.

It is important to the Louisiana Department of Insurance to properly record complaints and inquiries because the number of complaints an agency, producer or insurance company receives is typically what a consumer wants to know before deciding to purchase coverage. Additionally, complaints are filed with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and can affect an insurance company's rating.

We encourage consumers to try to resolve any concerns or complaints with a company or producer before contacting us, but if you are unable to or aren’t satisfied with the results, you may want to file an insurance complaint.

You can file a complaint or make an inquiry with the LDI online, by telephone or by mail. When filing a complaint, make sure to provide all pertinent information that will help us in the resolution of your concern. The LDI will assign your complaint or inquiry to a qualified representative to review.  However, when filing a complaint, remember that the LDI representative cannot do the following:
  • provide legal services that are sometimes needed to settle a complicated problem;
  • dispute an underwriting decision made in accordance with an insurer’s underwriting guidelines;
  • resolve a dispute that is a question of fact.

Once a complaint is filed, you will receive a case number. When contacting the LDI to check the status of your case, please refer to this number. The LDI representative will make every effort to promptly and thoroughly research your claim and work toward a fair resolution.

Consumer Advocacy -
Past and Future Venues
EDITOR'S LETTER

The major functions of the Office of Consumer Advocacy (OCA) are to act as a watchdog for consumers and ensure that consumers understand their rights as policyholders.  

The Office of Consumer Advocacy regularly takes part in various speaking engagements in and around the state of Louisiana to inform and educate Louisiana citizens about the regulations of the insurance industry. 

Since its creation in 2007, the OCA has had the opportunity to take part in numerous events. Presentations have been made at various organizations and locations such as Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs, neighborhood development foundations, Council on Aging Senior Centers and community meetings sponsored by LA representatives, senators and local councils.  The OCA has served as a guest class lecturer at various Louisiana universities, numerous churches and other civic organizations.  

The topics of interest are as follows: the role and function of each division within the Department of Insurance, the Policyholder Bill of Rights, the availability and affordability of insurance, catastrophe preparedness, the claims handling process, deductibles, rate increases, and hot topics such as tax incentives and mitigation discounts.

Understanding your insurance coverage can be a little intimidating sometimes.  Figuring out what coverage you need, how to balance premium costs, what you should do after a loss, and even what to do if you have a question or complaint, is often challenging.  These are some of the reasons the Office of Consumer Advocacy (OCA) created this newsletter.  OCA strives to be the source you can turn to for assistance; our goal is for this newsletter to provide helpful information to empower you when making your insurance decisions. 

This newsletter offers plain language explanations of insurance coverage, insight into how to handle the claims process and presents ways to help you save money on your insurance coverage.  Monthly outreach events are highlighted in the left banner section of the newsletter.  Many of these outreach events allow you to speak with an OCA staff member and get “one-on-one” assistance with your insurance needs. “Hot topics” will also be presented to inform you of changes in the industry and to keep you on the lookout for actions that you may have to take as a policyholder.

The OCA newsletter is e-blasted and posted on the Department of Insurance website the first Monday of each month.  Be on the lookout for the latest edition, and make sure to share it with your family and friends.

Deputy Commissioner
Clarissa A. Preston, CIC, APIR

Office of Consumer Advocacy P.O. Box 94214 Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9214
(225) 219-0619 or (800)259-5300 www.ldi.la.gov consumeradvocacy@ldi.la.gov