Louisiana Department of Insurance Office of Consumer Advocay
Volume 1, Issue 4

Congressman Joseph Cao
Disaster & Emergency Preparedness
Town Hall Meeting
7/8/2010
5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Cut Off Community Center (Lower Algiers)
6600 Belgrade Avenue
New Orleans, LA

DHH/St. Tammany Parish Health Fair
7/15/2010
9:00 a.m.- 1:00 p.m.
First Baptist Church of Covington
16333 Hwy 1085
Covington, LA

Southeastern Regulators Association Conference
7/26-28/2010
Hotel Monteleone
New Orleans, LA

Louisiana Filing & Compliance Seminar
07/29-30/2010
Hotel Monteleone
New Orleans, LA

DHH/Washington Parish Health Fair
7/30/2010
9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Hillcrest Baptist Church
2201 Washington St.
Franklinton, LA

 

 

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.state.la.us

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consumeradvocacy@ldi.state.la.us

Hurricane Prepared, Are you ready yet?

Hurricane season began June 1st and runs through November 30th. That should mean that you are ready for a potential hurricane.  It should also mean that you have an evacuation plan.

But just to be sure, let’s take a brief test:

Evacuation - If you have to evacuate, do you know where you are going? Have you made arrangements in advance to stay with relatives or friends, or do you know where you can find lodging?

Communication – Have you made sure that you have contact information (home and cell numbers) for family and friends and that they know your plans?  What about your responsibility as an employee in the event of a hurricane?  Do you know the call-in procedure required by your employer?

Prescriptions – Do you have enough of your medications on hand? If not, do you know how to contact your physician in the event of an emergency or should you need a refill prescription?

Finances – Do you have some cash set aside to cover hurricane-related expenses (hotel rooms, gasoline, food, and/or medical expenses) and unexpected purchases? Since ATMs will most likely be down due to power outages, debit cards and credit cards won't work.

Emergency Kit – Do you have all of your needed items: batteries, candles, first aid kit, flashlights, emergency/weather radio, non-perishable food items, toiletries and enough water to meet your needs?  

Important Documents – Are your important documents (insurance policies, birth certificates, marriage certificates, social security cards, photos, and credit cards) stored in a safe place? Have you decided which items you will take with you; which items will be originals and which items will be duplicated copies because originals are in your bank’s safe deposit or in some other safe place away from your home?

Automobile: Have your maintenance requirements been completed? Are your tires in good condition? Is your fluid inspection up-to-date? Are all lights working? Is the cooling system operating properly?

Emotions – Experiencing a hurricane can be very stressful. What items relieve stress for you? Make sure you bring along the items (religious items, favorite books, music, bath pleasures, etc...) that soothe you.

If after reading this article, you determine that you are indeed ready, congratulations, you have done a great job in getting "Hurricane Ready."

If after reading this article, you determine that you are not yet “Hurricane Prepared," it’s not too late, get prepared now!

Louisiana Long-term Care Partnership Program

The Louisiana Department of Insurance and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals have worked with the long-term care insurance industry to create the Louisiana Long-Term Care Partnership Program which allows individuals to finance their own long-term care needs as they purchase qualified, private long-term care insurance policies meeting state and federal partnership requirements. The program protects residents from being forced to exhaust their assets to become Medicaid eligible if they are faced with requiring long-term care, such as nursing home care or care due to a condition such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Many of the costs associated with a long-term illness or disability are typically not covered under health insurance policies, HMO plans, Medicare or Medicare supplemental policies. Medicaid does cover long-term care as long as individuals meet federal and state guidelines for income and assets.  Today, an individual would have to spend down all but $2,000 of his assets, with higher asset limits if a spouse is involved, before applying for Medicaid. Long-term care partnership policies pay for costs associated with day-in, day-out care for those with a long-term illness or disability. Services include those provided by nursing homes, adult day care centers, and assisted living centers or other community facilities. They can also cover a number of in-home services, such as nursing care performed by registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and occupational, speech, and/or physical therapists, as well as services provided by home health aides employed by licensed home care agencies.

For most people, the benefits of their private long-term care partnership insurance policy will provide all of the care they will need. Each dollar that an individual’s partnership policy pays out in benefits entitles the policyholder to keep a dollar of assets if the individual ever needs to apply for Medicaid services. Because of this unique asset protection feature, policyholders will no longer have to spend down to Medicaid eligibility levels if they run out of insurance benefits and still need care. Individuals who feel that they may one day need assistance with their long-term care now have an option that allows them to keep their assets and still receive the services necessary for their long-term care.

Partnership policies are only marketed by licensed insurance professionals who have completed training in the state of Louisiana.  Long-term care insurance companies with partnership endorsements are approved by the Louisiana Department of Insurance.  For information about the Long-Term Care Partnership Program, consumers may contact the Louisiana Department of Insurance at 1-800-259-5300 or www.ldi.state.la.us or the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals at (225) 342-9500 or www.dhh.louisiana.gov.

What is Force Placed Insurance?

Most times when consumers borrow money for major purchases like houses and cars, there is a requirement that the consumer maintain a certain amount of insurance coverage on the purchased item.  Insurance coverage that is obtained by the mortgage lender or lien holder to protect its security interest in a property or on a vehicle where the borrower has failed to maintain insurance coverage as required by the purchase agreement is referred to as force placed insurance coverage.  It is designed to protect only the interest of the mortgage lender or lien holder and not that of the borrower.  In the event of a loss or claim, the borrower would not be directly entitled to insurance proceeds, despite being responsible for the premiums.  Hurricane season is now upon us and it is important to know if your insurance is force placed or not and whose interests are protected.

Example:  A mortgage loan requires that the borrower maintains $100,000 in homeowners insurance coverage and $100,000 in flood insurance coverage on a house.  If the borrower does not pay the required insurance premiums the insurance policies are cancelled.  The mortgage company then obtains force placed homeowners and flood insurance on the home in the amount of $100,000 for each policy and increases the borrower’s monthly mortgage payment to cover the force placed insurance premiums.  In the event of a loss or claim, the owner of the home does not have coverage to protect his interest or personal property (contents). 

Review your insurance coverage and make sure you know how your policy works, what is covered, and who to contact if you need to file a claim.

Students headed to college ‐ what's covered?

For some it’s one of the most important days in the life of a parent. You've done all you could to prepare your child for college. Or have you?  Most parents don’t realize the importance of reviewing insurance policies when sending their child to college. Three of the most important insurance coverages that students deal with are health, renters, and auto.

Many parents make the common mistake of thinking that their child will be covered under their health policy and that their coverage and benefits will be the same while they're away at school. In some cases, insurers cover dependents until age 23, but in many other cases insurers terminate dependent coverage sooner, some as young as age 18. The Louisiana Legislature in the 2010 Regular Session passed HB 244, which goes into effect soon and will require health insurance companies to offer continuation of dependant coverage to age 26, including grandchildren that are being raised by their grandparents. Also college students that attend school out of state may not receive all benefits or may be charged additional fees for seeing physicians out of the insured network, which may be a regional or statewide network only.

Renters insurance is another important coverage that most people are not aware of.  Students now head to college with valuable personal items such as laptops, iPods, DVD players, etc. Usually, the school or landlord will not cover loss of these items if there is a fire or theft, so make sure that your child is covered under your property policy or set up a separate renters policy. For students living in dorms, most policies cover contents up to a certain percentage (usually 10%) of the personal property limit on the parents' homeowners policy. For students living in off-campus housing, many policies will not cover contents. Check with your insurance company for appropriate premium costs and coverage.

We all know that auto accidents happen, so your auto insurance plan is very important. If your child is taking a car to college and the car is registered in your name, your family policy covers that car.  Premiums vary depending on where your child goes to school. It is important to notify your insurance company about where your child will be taking the car.

Before you send your child to college, review these three types of coverage. Check with your agent about your existing coverages to see what will carry over. If you need to purchase additional policies, search around for the best cost estimates.

EDITOR'S LETTER

The Louisiana Department of Insurance is taking all available measures within its authority to protect the citizens of the state of Louisiana who have been affected by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and its aftermath.   The Commissioner has created an ad hoc committee within the Department to carry out necessary actions as related to the oil spill. If you have questions other than these listed below, please contact the Office of Consumer Advocacy.

Q.  What happens if there is a hurricane or other storm in the Gulf?  If oil is carried onto my property as a result of flood waters, is the removal or cleanup covered by my homeowners or commercial policy?
A.  No, as with any damage caused by flood waters, a standard property insurance policy for residential or commercial structures does not cover these losses.  However, flood insurance, issued through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), will cover flood damage, including damage caused by water mixed with oil.
 
Q.  Does my NFIP insurance policy cover damage to land and other fixtures on my property?
A.  No, damage to ground, soil, or land caused by flood or flood water mixed with oil is not currently covered by the NFIP plans.
 
Q.  With NFIP flood insurance is there a cap to oil damage caused by flood waters?
A.  No, residential policies do not have a pollutant limit and are subject to the ordinary claims limits of the flood policy.

Q.  What if my property is commercial? 
A.  The standard flood insurance policy on commercial property issued by the NFIP limits damage caused by pollutants to $10,000.
 
Q.  What if I don’t have flood insurance? 
A.  Claims should be submitted to BP who has promised to honor all legitimate claims caused by the oil spill.
 
Q.   How can I purchase flood insurance?
A.  Call your local insurance agent who can write a NFIP policy for you or refer you to someone who can.  For more information on the NFIP Flood Insurance Program, visit the NFIP web site, www.floodsmart.gov or the LDI web site www.ldi.state.la.us.  You can call the NFIP at 1-888-379-9531.

Q.  What is the BP claims hotline number?
A.  For claims, call 1-800-440-0858. The claims phone line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Q.  Where can I find a list of the claims offices?
A.  A list of the claims office locations can be found at http://www.gulfcoastclaimsfacility.com/facility.
    
Other Helpful Numbers:

  • To report oiled wildlife, please call 1-866-557-1401 and leave a message. Tri-State Bird Rescue will check messages hourly.
  • To report oiled shoreline or request volunteer information, please call 1-866-448-5816.
  • BP is working with state organizations to coordinate volunteer efforts in affected Gulf of Mexico states.  If you are interested in this type of role, please contact Volunteer Louisiana at http://www.volunteerlouisiana.gov/ or call 211 or 1-800-755-5175.
Office of Consumer AdvocacyP.O. Box 94214Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9214
(225) 219-0619 or (800)259-5300 www.ldi.la.gov consumeradvocacy@ldi.la.gov