Louisiana Department of Insurance Office of Consumer Advocay
Volume 2, Issue 12
DECEMBER 2011

Hammond Rotary Club
12/14/11
104 N. Café St.
Hammond, La.

Divas Holiday Event
12/21/2011
Capital Area Technical College                         
3250 N. Acadian Thruway
Baton Rouge,La.

For speaking engagements scheduled after the release of the newsletter or for more detailed information about engagements listed in the newsletter, visit our Web site at www.ldi.la.gov. Click on the Events tab found in the center of the home page.

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Expiration of LA Citizens Assessment Rebates

Louisiana Revised Statute 47:6025 allows a refundable state tax credit to reimburse insurance policyholders who paid a Louisiana Citizen Property Insurance Corporation assessment as part of their property insurance premium.  Property owners are eligible for this rebate whether they file state taxes or not.

To receive a rebate, file a state tax return, an amended tax return or complete the Department of Revenue Louisiana Citizens Insurance Tax Credit form for the year in which an assessment was paid. The form is found on the Department of Revenue’s Web site home page and also on the Department of Insurance’s Web site home page.  Include with this form a copy of the declaration page of the insurance policy which itemizes the assessment amount. Also, attach verification that the insurance premium was paid and mail all documents directly to the Department of Revenue.  Individual policyholders can reference forms for the following years: 2007 Form R-540INS, 2008 Form R-540INS, 2009 Form R-540INS, 2010 Form R-540INS, 2011 Form R-540INS.  Businesses should complete Form R-620INS for the appropriate year to claim the rebate.

The declaration page will list one or all of the following LA Citizens charges that can be claimed as the sum of the assessment charges for the four items below: 

  • Louisiana Citizens FAIR Plan Regular Assessment Recoupment Surcharge
  • Louisiana Citizens Coastal Plan Regular Assessment Recoupment Surcharge
  • Louisiana Citizens FAIR Plan Emergency Assessment
  • Louisiana Citizens Market Equalization Charge

December 31, 2010 was the expiration date for claiming the 2005 and 2006 rebates; however, it is not too late to receive the rebate of the assessments on tax years 2007 and later, and property owners do not have to wait until filing 2011 state taxes.

Assessments paid in 2007 must be claimed by the end of 2011; assessments paid in 2008 must be claimed by the end of 2012; assessments paid in 2009 must be claimed by the end of 2013; assessments paid in 2010 must be claimed by the end of 2014; and finally assessments paid in 2011 must be claimed by the end of 2015.  It is wise to obtain the rebate as soon as you pay the assessment, or plan to claim the tax credit on your state income tax.

Please note that refunds will be delayed if rebate claims are made on both the INS form and the LA tax return or if the claim is for the total amount of insurance premium paid.

As of December 31, 2010, 63 percent of all available money had not been claimed which equates to $362 million.  Be sure to file for your rebate. After all, it is your unclaimed money!

Fall and Holiday Tips For Preventing Insurance Claims

This is the time of year when we celebrate family and friends. We often visit family and friends, far and near, and share gifts with those we cherish.  However, according to the insurance industry, June 1st through December 31st is the period when most insurance nightmares such as home fires, theft, drunken driving and identity theft, increase. Below are some useful tips to help you through the holiday season.

Property Protection

  • Keep your home properly heated. Keeping the inside of your home heated limits the chance of pipes freezing.
  • Insulate outdoor pipes and faucets with faucet covers, insulating foam or rags.
  • Know where your primary water valve is located. If a pipe bursts, you will need to turn the water off right away.
  • Drain and cover your swimming pool.
  • Have your fireplace cleaned annually. A dirty fireplace is a fire hazard.
  • Remove leaves, acorns, sticks and other debris from your gutters to prevent “ice damming." This occurs when water is unable to properly drain through gutters.

Updating Policy Coverage
Contact your insurance producer to discuss your current homeowners or renters and automobile policy coverage.  Ask about the most common limitations and restrictions that apply during the holiday season. Decide what changes, if any, you need to make to your policy.

  • If you expect to have an increase in your personal property, due to the purchase of expensive holiday gifts such as jewelry, computers, electronic games, ask your producer about increasing your coverage.  Some stores will insure your purchases for a minimal fee and you may also be able to claim some of your losses from the credit card company. Coverage under your automobile insurance policy is limited, and can be supplemented with your homeowners insurance.  Although the purchases may not have made it into your home yet, they may be covered under your homeowners insurance under the “away from home section."
  • If you expect to be away from your home for an extended period of time, ask your producer what period of time is considered “unoccupied." Most insurance policies have an extended absence clause which states that the coverage will be invalid if your home is unoccupied for a certain period of time. 

Decorating for the Holidays

  • Invest in homeowner-friendly decorations for the holidays. Use flame-retardant/fire-resistant/non-combustible decorations. Don’t leave lights on overnight.
  • Avoid decorating with candles.
  • Don't overload extension cords.
  • Be cautious when changing bulbs. If you need to change any flickering bulb in the strand of lights, unplug the lights first.
  • Keep pets away from heaters and the decorations.
  • Be careful when using a chair or ladder to reach. 
  • Don't leave electrical heaters on overnight unless they have an automatic shut-off feature and are designed for overnight use. Never attach an extension cord to a heater.
  • When preparing dinner, do not leave your stove, oven or grill unattended. If needed, use timers.  Do not use your oven to warm your house. And, if you plan to fry a turkey, make sure to do so outdoors away from potential fire hazards.
  • Keep valuables hidden away or lock them in a room that guests do not need to enter.

Practice these fall and holiday safety precautions while enjoying your food, family, and friends during this festive time and have a very happy holiday.

OCA Newsletter Volume 2 – A Year in Review

The Office of Consumer Advocacy continues to strive to be a source of assistance for insurance questions and concerns.  Our hope is that this newsletter provides helpful information using uncomplicated explanations of insurance coverage, insight into how to handle the claims process and suggestions on ways to save money on insurance coverage.
 
The OCA Newsletter has been e-mailed and posted on the Department of Insurance Web site each month since April 2010, and we are proud to have delivered insurance news and information.  Topics were originated from insurance headlines, requests from the public, and staff members' interests.  Articles were written and edited by the entire OCA staff and supported by the other divisions of the Department of Insurance. If there is an insurance topic that you would like us to address, let us know.

Some of the topics covered in 2011 were:

  • Small Business Insurance
  • Careers In Insurance
  • Tax Credits
  • Seasonal Policy Reviews
  • Ratemaking
  • Flood Insurance
  • Credit Reporting
  • Property Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Health Insurance

We hope the information has been educational, enlightening and informative.  We look forward to next year’s publications.

Click here to see all the previous issues of the Consumer Advocacy Newsletter.

Happy Holidays!
Office of Consumer Advocacy

Clarissa A. Preston                  Sharon C. Arnold
Benjamin Darnell                    Bernadette Williams
LaQuette Brown                     JoRel Johnson

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