Louisiana Department of Insurance Consumer Alert LDI Website James J. Donelon Follow us on Twitter Become a Fan on Facebook
Volume 4, Issue 12
LATIFPA Board of Directors Meeting
Dates:
December 11, 2013
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Location: 4th Floor Conference Room, Poydras Building
1702 N. Third St., Baton Rouge, LA 70802

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 FROM CONSUMER ADVOCACY MAILING LIST" in the subject line.
public@ldi.la.gov

The Clock is Ticking

The deadline for Louisiana property insurance policyholders to claim a rebate for the Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens) Assessment charged on their 2009 insurance policy is quickly approaching. The option to claim the 2009 assessment expires on December 31, 2013. Currently, 53.1 percent or nearly $59 million of the Citizens Assessment for 2009 remains unclaimed.

All property insurance policyholders, whether they are a Citizens policyholder or have insurance through another company, pay the Citizens assessment as part of their property insurance bills each year. The assessment is payment for a bond issued by Louisiana Citizens to cover the large amount of damages caused by Hurricane Katrina. The assessment was passed on to property and casualty policyholders by insurance companies who are responsible for paying the cost of the bond.

The amount of the assessment can be found on the declaration page of your insurance policy and is fully refundable once you have paid your annual insurance bill. Currently, property owners are eligible to claim their rebate for assessments paid in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013; however, the allotted time to claim the 2009 Citizens assessment will expire at the end of the year.

There are three ways to claim the Citizens assessment rebate:

1. Online. Policyholders can visit www.revenue.louisiana.gov/fileonline. This link will take you to a webpage for Online Filing and Payments. This system also enables you to fill out the form necessary for your Citizens refund. You will need to register as a user and follow the links. There will be an option to Claim Citizen’s Refund. Once you fill out your information, you will have the option of choosing to receive the rebate by direct deposit, paper check or pre-loaded debit card.

2. On Paper. Fill out the Louisiana Department of Revenue tax form for the year in which you paid the Citizens Assessment. It takes only a few minutes to fill out the very short form that asks for information such as your name, address and the amount of the assessment you paid. To access forms, click here.

3. Tax Return. Claim the rebate as a tax credit on your Louisiana Individual Income Tax Return, which is due each May. Be careful not to claim the rebate on both the INS form and the tax return since this will delay your refund.

Businesses may claim the Citizens Rebate only by filing Department of Revenue Form R-620INS or by filing a current-year or amended tax return. A copy of the insurance policy declaration page showing proof of the assessment amount must be attached to any claim form.

For more information on the Citizens assessment, please visit the Louisiana Citizens Assessment Rebate resource page located on the LDI’s website.

Citizens Reaches Major Milestone

Louisiana’s property insurer of last resort reached a major milestone during its most recent round of depopulation. For the first time in six years, Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation’s (Citizens) total policy count dropped below 100,000 personal and commercial policies. Citizens reports 14,268 residential policies are being transferred to the private insurance market through three companies.

The three companies assuming homeowners policies from Citizens during this seventh round of depopulation are Access Home Insurance Co., Maison Insurance Co. and Lighthouse Property Insurance Corp. All three companies have previously participated in Citizens’ depopulation process. Policyholders whose policies were moved during this round of depopulation have 60 days from the assumption date (December 1, 2013) to decide whether they prefer to remain with Citizens. In prior rounds, typically less than two percent of policyholders opted out and chose to remain with Citizens.

Policies transferred to the private insurance market will benefit by now having lower premiums since as the insurer of last resort Citizens’ rates are required by law to be the highest rate in each parish. All Louisiana property owners benefit from the reduction of policies from Citizens as it reduces the need for future assessments charged to property owners in the event of another Katrina-level event.

Citizens is expected to drop to an estimated 2.7 percent homeowners market share with this annual round of policy removals. This ranks Citizens ninth in market share size in Louisiana. At the end of 2012, Citizens had a market share size of approximately 3.0 percent.

Over the seven rounds of the Citizens Depopulation Program, Citizens has reduced its policy count by a total of 88,805 policies. This marks a 51 percent decrease from an all-time high of 174,000 policies in 2008. In the six previous rounds of Citizens depopulation, Citizens saw the following reductions in policy counts:

Round One – 26,595 policies on June 1, 2008
Round Two – 13,343 policies on December 1, 2008
Round Three – 3,368 policies on April 1, 2009
Round Four – 13,466 policies on December 1, 2010
Round Five – 10,890 policies on December 1, 2011
Round Six – 6,877 policies on December 1, 2012

(Insuring) Happily Ever After...

Statistics show that at least 39 percent of marriage proposals happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. While weddings and honeymoons may be top of mind for many, it’s also essential to discuss finances and insurance as couples plan a future together.

According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), while 71 percent of newly married couples acknowledged the importance of sharing beneficiary designations before marrying, nearly half never got around to addressing their life insurance needs before saying “I do.”

In an effort to help ease the stress and burden of the “what if’s” of insurance, the NAIC has put together a simple survival guide for marriage that offers facts and tips that encourage couples to ask questions before they make the next step. The Insurance Survival Guide for Newlyweds covers topics such as auto, home, health and life insurance.

The NAIC survey also found that while 61 percent of couples between the ages of 18-24 discussed combining their auto insurance policies before marriage, only 30 percent cited their spouse’s driving record as an important topic to discuss before marriage. The NAIC’s survival guide suggests that before getting married, couples educate themselves on each other’s driving records and find out who’s covered under each policy.

Also, according to the survey, nearly a quarter of younger couples purchased their first home together before they were married, compared to 14 percent of couples that are ages 45 and older. In purchasing a home it is critical to remember your address, construction type and square footage likely will impact your homeowners’ insurance premiums. Before buying and settling down anywhere with your spouse, consider home size, value, and neighborhood.

Visit InsureUOnline.org to access resources and tips for engaged couples and newlyweds including the NAIC’s Insurance Survival Guide for Newlyweds.

Car Thieves Don't Take Holidays

A recent report released by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) shows that a total of 21,325 vehicles were reported stolen on 11 holidays in 2012.

The most active holidays in 2012 were:

1. New Year's Day (2,228)
2. Labor day (2,158)
3. New Year's Eve (2,152)
4. Memorial Day (2,078)
5. Halloween (2,053)
6. Chrstmas Eve (2,034)
7. Idependence Day (1,955)
8. President's Day (1,925)
9. Thanksgiving (1,656)
10. Valentine's Day (1,654)
11. Christmas Day (1,432)

Professional thieves can steal any car, but make them work for yours. To prevent thefts and make your car a less desireable target for theives, the Louisiana Department of Insurance recommends the following tips:

  • Park in well-lit areas
  • Remove keys from the ignition when exiting the vehicle
  • Lock doors and close all windows
  • Hide personal possesions (purses, laptops, packages, cell phones, GPS, etc.) out of sight
  • Install an audible alarm
  • Equip vehicle with a tracking device
  • Purchase a steering wheel lock
  • Have the vehicle's VIN nmber etched into the glass
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Office of Consumer AdvocacyP.O. Box 94214Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9214
(225) 219-0619 or (800)259-5300www.ldi.la.govconsumeradvocacy@ldi.la.gov