Louisiana Department of Insurance Office of Consumer Advocay

Volume 3, Issue 5
December 2012

Meeting Notice: 

The Louisiana Automobile Theft and Insurance Fraud Prevention Authority (LATIFPA) will meet on Wednesday, December 12th at 10:00 a.m. in the Poydras Building Conference Room.

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

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

Louisiana Department of Insurance Offers Holiday Travel Tips

With millions of travelers planning to spend time with family and friends over the holidays, Christmas is one of the most popular holidays for travel in the United States. Over the past three years, AAA has reported an average of over 90 million American travelers taking trips of at least 50 miles from home each year during the Christmas holidays. And according to AAA, the majority of these travelers are sticking to the highways rather than flying.

The LDI is offering the following tips for travel:

  • Make sure you have all your insurance documents with you in your vehicle. Remember, an electronic insurance card downloaded to your smartphone or tablet is considered a valid way to show proof of insurance in Louisiana. Some insurers have an app you can download or, in most cases, you can simply ask your insurer to provide you with an electronic copy.
  • Know what your auto insurance policy covers. The last thing you want to say to yourself after a car accident is “I wonder if I’m covered for this?” You may find that tweaking your policy by adding additional drivers or purchasing roadside assistance will provide better coverage and may not cause a significant increase to your premium.
  • If you’ll be renting a car, speak with your insurance agent to see if your current policy covers your rental. If so, you may choose to forego the rental company’s insurance.
  • If you’re involved in an auto accident on your trip, remember to remain calm. Check for injuries and, if needed, administer first-aid or call for an ambulance. No matter the severity of the accident, always report the incident to the police.
  • Be sure to record the name and insurance of the other driver(s) involved in the crash, as well as, the make, model, and license plate number of the cars involved.

The LDI also wants consumers to be aware of the free mobile app WreckCheck from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). The app offers tips and guidance to follow during and after an accident. The app also allows users to input important information from the accident such as names, insurance information and photos which can be e-mailed to their insurance agent. WreckCheck is available for free in iPhone and Android app stores. NAIC also offers a downloadable accident checklist that can help guide motorists on the steps to take following an accident. For more information on the app, go to the NAIC’s consumer page www.insureuonline.org

Update on Medicare Open Enrollment

With Medicare Open Enrollment for 2013 now completed, Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) counselors are concluding what has been a very busy schedule of assisting Medicare beneficiaries in selecting their health and prescription drug plans for the upcoming year. SHIIP counselors have also been assisting seniors with health insurance claims, supplemental and long-term care insurance policy comparisons, and the Medicare appeals process.

The Medicare Open Enrollment for 2013 lasted from October 15 - December 7. During that time, beneficiaries were allowed to make a variety of changes to their current plans, such as switching from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan, or vice versa. Changes made during the enrollment period will take effect  January 1, 2013. For more information on Understanding Medicare Options, please go to www.ldi.la.gov/SHIIP.

Over the past two months, SHIIP counselors have traveled statewide conducting more than 50 open enrollment presentations in various parishes, including Ascension, Caddo, Calcasieu, Catahoula, East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Ouachita, St. James and West Feliciana.

REMEMBER: You can always request a SHIIP counselor to deliver a presentation at your next business, professional or community event. Presentations are delivered at no cost and speakers can talk to large or small groups on many topics ranging from Medicare to Long-Term Care Insurance. For more information on how to request a SHIIP speaker, please visit www.ldi.la.gov/SHIIP/request-speaker.aspx.

Policyholders can still contact Department of Insurance with Hurricane Isaac Claims Issues

In the months following Hurricane Isaac, staff members from the Louisiana Department of Insurance (LDI) Office of Consumer Advocacy have been active in impacted communities, making presentations, offering insurance information and answering questions. Along with representatives from FEMA and other local officials, the LDI staff has participated in community meetings in Braithewaite, Violet, Hammond, Marrero, Luling, New Sarpy, New Orleans and Baton Rouge, among other locations.

Since much of the damages from Hurricane Isaac resulted from flooding, the majority of questions have been flood related. Policyholders can contact the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) with questions or complaints regarding flood policies and claims. That website is www.floodsmart.gov. Policyholders with property and casualty insurance policies can continue to contact the Department of Insurance (LDI) if they have insurance-related questions.

Department examiners investigate complaints from policyholders against agents, adjusters and companies to determine if the insurance company has honored the insurance policy and paid the consumer according to the provisions of their policy. During the first six months of this year, the LDI was successful in collecting an additional $2.6 million in payments resulting from insurance claims disputes in which LDI worked with insurance companies and consumers to recover funds in addition to the original amounts offered to consumers by their insurance companies. 

Insurance policyholders in Louisiana who feel they have not been fairly compensated for their insurance claims can contact the LDI toll-free at 1-800-259-5300.  Policyholders can file a complaint online or on paper by going to www.ldi.la.gov, and clicking on “File an Insurance Complaint” under our “Consumer” section. Consumers may also file a complaint by visiting LDI and meeting with an insurance specialist, who will help them with the process. Appointments are not required and LDI keeps staff members available between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Have a Safe & Merry Christmas

According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. fire departments respond to an average of nearly 400 residential fires each year during the Christmas holidays. While most of these fires are usually small and confined, many are not and can become deadly.

On average, Christmas holiday fires involving Christmas trees and/or holiday lights account for an estimated 21 deaths each year and cause numerous injuries. These holiday fires also account for more than $25 million in property damage.

Data presented by the United States Fire Administration show that residential fires are more likely to occur during the month of December than any other month of the year. With that in mind, the Louisiana Department of Insurance is offering the following tips to help you and your family have a Safe & Merry Christmas:

  • Be careful in the selection process of your tree. Try to choose a tree that has been freshly cut.
  • Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
  • Do not place your tree near a heat source such as a fireplace or heating vent.
  • If you are using an artificial tree, be sure it is flame retardant.
  • Inspect your holiday lights each year for frayed wires or broken or cracked sockets.
  • Never use lit candles as decoration.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets.
  • Use only nonflammable decorations.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving the house or going to bed.
Office of Consumer AdvocacyP.O. Box 94214Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9214
(225) 219-0619 or (800)259-5300www.ldi.la.govconsumeradvocacy@ldi.la.gov