Louisiana Department of Insurance Consumer Alert LDI Website James J. Donelon Follow us on Twitter Become a Fan on Facebook
Volume 4, Issue 4
Home Buyer Class
Date
: April 16, 2013
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Location: St. James Parish Gov't Dept. of Human Resources
5153 Canatella St., Convent, LA 70723

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

Spring Clean your Insurance

Spring is officially here bringing along with it the sounds of chirping birds, the sweet smell of blooming flowers, and yes, the arrival of the annual deep cleansing ritual known as spring cleaning. This year, as you ready yourself to scrub those hardwood floors and clear out that cluttered closet, the Louisiana Department of Insurance is reminding you to also treat your insurance policies to a good spring cleaning.

Just as the seasons change, so do insurance needs. Updating your policies periodically to reflect the changes in your life is not only a way to ensure that you’re properly insured, but can also bring a better understanding of your insurance options.

A quick, yet thorough review of your policies can also help you save money on your premium by removing unnecessary or outdated coverage from your policy. Here are some other tips to keep in mind when sprucing up your insurance policies:

  • Report any updates to your insurance agent. Any and all changes, whether it is the simple addition of a burglary alarm system or a complete kitchen remodel, should be reported to your insurance agent as they have an effect on your insurance premium and your home’s value. Big ticket purchases such as jewelry and electronics should also be reported. Consider purchasing a personal articles policy for such things as jewelry, fine art, cameras or even golf equipment.  
  • Consider “bundling” your insurance policies. Many insurance companies offer discounted rates for consumers who purchase two or more insurance policies from them. However, be certain that the discounted rate quoted is less than what it would cost to purchase the policies from different insurers.
  • Inquire about discounts. Check with your insurer to see if they offer discounts for burglar-proofing your car or home with an alarm system. Other discounts that auto insurance companies may offer include: multi-car discount, usage-based insurance, safe driver’s program, good grades discount, defensive driving discount and discounts for being a member of certain clubs and organizations. Homeowners can also receive insurance premium discounts for building or retrofitting their home to comply with the Louisiana Uniform Construction Code, or by installing mitigation improvements demonstrated to reduce the amount of loss from a windstorm or hurricane.
  • Consider adjusting your deductibles. Check with your insurer to discuss the pros and cons of adjusting your deductibles. Having a higher deductible means the premium you pay each month will be lower; however, you will be responsible for more of the costs to repair damages should you need to file a claim. Most homeowners policies now have “named storm” or “hurricane deductibles” that may be increased when the policyholder wishes to self-insure for more of the risk. 
  • Shop around. When dealing with all types of insurance, it’s a good idea to shop around. Get quotes from at least three insurance companies and compare those rates to what you are currently paying. You may find that a different company’s rates better suit your financial situation. When comparing, be sure that the quotes are identical and to choose a company that is financially sound and has a history of providing good quality customer service.

The LDI offers a homeowners and auto insurance comparison tool known as “Shop your Rates” that can be used as a starting point for consumers looking to compare the rates of insurance companies in their area. Keep in mind that the rates on “Shop your Rates” are not meant to provide an exact estimate of your insurance cost, but rather to demonstrate the importance of shopping around for the best policy for you.

Senate Bill 12 Seeks to Aid Homeowners

In an effort to help homeowners overwhelmed with large named storm deductibles, a new bill has been prefiled and is set to be presented during the 2013 Regular Legislative Session set to convene this month. Sponsored by Senator Edwin R. Murray, Senate Bill 12 would grant a refundable individual income tax credit for up to $600 on deposits made in a tax year to Wind and Hail Deductible Savings Accounts.

What are Wind and Hail Deductible Savings Accounts?

Modeled after Health Savings Accounts, Wind and Hail Deductible Savings Accounts would allow homeowners in Louisiana to set aside money to pay for deductibles assessed by insurance companies in the event of a hurricane or other named storm. The money would be tax-free and would be beneficial to Louisianans who experienced “sticker shock” when attempting to file claims for damages resulting from Hurricane Isaac last year.

Currently, many insurance companies in coastal states such as Louisiana typically assess a three to five percent named storm deductible based on the insured amount of the home. That means a $250,000 home with a three percent named storm deductible would require a homeowner to pay a $7,500 deductible before the insurance company would contribute to the damages sustained.

SB 12 would provide help to Louisiana consumers looking to be proactive in protecting themselves in planning for the expenses associated with named storm deductibles in the event of another catastrophic event. To track this legislation and view the bill in its entirety, click here.

SHIIP Update

Do you have questions about your Medicare policy? A Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) counselor can help. SHIIP counselors are gearing up to take their Medicare road show across the state and will be visiting a city near you this spring. SHIIP is a free and confidential counseling program provided through the LDI to help Medicare beneficiaries in Louisiana achieve a better understanding of their Medicare policy and options. Cities that SHIIP counselors will be visiting in April and May include: Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, New Orleans, Shreveport, Monroe, Alexandria and Lafayette.

For more details, including dates and locations, please visit www.ldi.la.gov/SHIIP/calendar.html. Or contact a SHIIP counselor by phone at 1-800-259-5300.

LDI on YouTube

The LDI has officially joined YouTube. Check out our new channel to see all the latest videos from LDI press conferences, seminars and public outreach campaigns. Click on the link below to visit the department’s channel.

https://www.youtube.com/LAInsuranceDept

Citizens Assessment Rebate Reminder

Have you claimed your Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens) assessment rebate? If not, now is the time to do it. Hundreds of millions of dollars go unclaimed every year by insurance policyholders in Louisiana. Whether you have a property insurance policy with Citizens or through another company, you pay the Citizens assessment as part of your property insurance bill each year and are therefore entitled to claim the rebate.

There are three simple and quick ways to claim the assessment rebate: online, by paper, or as a tax credit on your current year or amended tax return. Click here to find out more details about the Citizens assessment and how to claim your rebate.

 

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