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Volume 4, Issue 3

Pre-Session Town Hall Meeting
Event Date: March 5, 2013
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Southern University at New Orleans
6400 Press Drive, New Orleans, LA 70126

Senator Broome Community Meeting
Event Date: March 5, 2013
Time: 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Location: Zachary Branch Library
1900 Church St., Zachary, LA 70791

Business Information Session
Event Date: March 5, 2013
Time: 5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Location: Ashe Cultural Center
1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70130
For more information, click here.

Senator Broome Community Meeting
Event Date: March 11, 2013
Time: 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Location: LSU Medical Clinic Community Room
5445 Airline Hwy., Baton Rouge, LA 70805

NDF 2nd Home Mortgage Refinance Fair
Event Date: March 16, 2013
Time: 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Location: UNO Lindy Boggs Conference Center
2045 Lakeshore Drive, Suite 246, New Orleans, LA 70122

Senator Broome Community Meeting
Event Date: March 19, 2013
Time: 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Location: Greenwell Springs Branch Library
11300 Greenwell Springs Road, Baton Rouge, LA

Pre-Session Town Hall Meeting
Event Date: March 19, 2013
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: Fonseca Auditorium
1101 Medical Center Blvd., Marrero, LA 70072

Home Buyer Class
Event Date: April 2, 2013
Time: 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Location: St. James Parish Government Dept. of H.R.
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

Raise Your Insurance IQ During Consumer Protection Week

National Consumer Protection Week is March 3 – 9 and in honor of the nationwide campaign that encourages consumers to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions, the Louisiana Department of Insurance is reminding folks that the Office of Consumer Advocacy is here to help in raising your insurance IQ.

Created by the Louisiana Legislature in 2007, the Office of Consumer Advocacy staff attends and coordinates numerous meetings throughout the state in an effort to educate consumers about insurance. During these meetings, the Consumer Advocacy staff commonly explains the functions of the LDI, discusses the many divisions within the department and enlightens consumers on what programs are available to assist them.

Two of the main functions of the Office of Consumer Advocacy are to assist consumers with insurance inquiries and to enforce the Policyholder Bill of Rights. The Consumer Advocacy staff also works with other consumer protection divisions within the Department of Insurance, such as the Property & Casualty and Health divisions, in order to perform the following duties:

  • Serve as an advocate for consumers requesting assistance.
  • Receive and respond to consumer questions and inquiries regarding all lines of insurance.
  • Report violations of rules, regulations or laws of those entities regulated by the LDI to the appropriate official.
  • Disseminate informational brochures to consumers, civic associations, governmental organizations and other interested parties.

Consumers with insurance-related inquiries should feel free to contact the Office of Consumer Advocacy by dialing 1-800-259-5300 or visit the LDI’s website, www.ldi.la.gov, for more information on how the department can assist you.

Consumers are also invited to test their Insurance IQ by checking out this insurance intelligence quiz sponsored by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

Policyholder Bill of Rights

Policyholders shall have the right to…

  • Competitive pricing practices and marketing methods that enable them to determine the best value among comparable coverage in accordance with the law.
  • Insurance advertising that is not false and other selling approaches that provide accurate and balanced information on the benefits and limitations of a policy in accordance with the law.
  • An insurance company that is financially stable.
  • Be treated fairly and be free from unfair or deceptive acts or practices in accordance with the law.
  • Receive service from competent, honest insurance agents who will answer their questions promptly.
  • Receive the appropriate disclosure form as an insert in the front of the insurance policy that complies with the law.
  • Balanced and positive regulation by the Department of Insurance.
  • Check the license status of an insurance company, producer or adjuster.
  • Receive written notice of cancellation or nonrenewal at least 30 days prior to the effective date of the cancellation or nonrenewal, unless the cancellation or nonrenewal is for nonpayment of premium; and shall have the right to protection from improper cancellation or nonrenewal in accordance with the law.
  • Receive the reason for any cancellation or nonrenewal of coverage in writing.
  • Cancel their policy and receive a refund of any unearned premium. If a policy was funded by a premium finance company, the unearned premium will be returned to the premium finance company to pay toward the policyholder’s financing loan.
  • A written notification detailing any change in policy provisions at renewal.
  • Receive payment of the amount of any property damage claim, or a portion of the claim due, or a written offer to settle any property damage claim within 30 days after receipt of satisfactory proof of loss in accordance with the law. If a claim is denied, policyholders shall have the right to receive a written explanation as to the reason for denial, in whole or in part, of any claim made under their policy of insurance.
  • Relative to first party property damage claims, policyholders shall have the right to request and receive from the insurance company any estimates, bids, plans, measurements, drawings, engineer reports, contractor reports, statements or documents that are not legally privileged, that the insurance company prepared, had prepared, or used during its adjustment of the policyholder’s claim. A company may keep confidential adjuster notes, logs and any documents prepared in conjunction with a fraud investigation.
  • File a complaint against any insurance company, producer or adjuster with the Department of Insurance, and have that complaint investigated by the Department.
  • Receive a readable and complete property insurance policy, and request a duplicate or replacement policy as needed.
  • The remedies provided for in Louisiana laws (R.S.22:1892) if an insurer violates that Section in the handling of the claim.

Tax season: A perfect time claim your Citizens rebate

Did you know that more than a quarter of a billion dollars in unclaimed refunds is available for policyholders through the Citizens assessment rebate?

With tax season in full swing, Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon and the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) are reminding property owners that a great way to get some extra cash back when filing taxes is by claiming the Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens) assessment rebate.

The Citizens assessment is payment for bonds issued by Citizens to cover the damages caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. That assessment was passed on to property and casualty policyholders in Louisiana by insurance companies and is fully refundable to property owners once they have paid their annual insurance bill.

Whether you are a Citizens insurance policyholder or have insurance through another company, you can still claim the Citizens assessment rebate. As of December 2012, more than $255 million or 65 percent of the funds available had not been claimed. 

There are three simple ways to claim your rebate:

  1. Tax Return. Claim the rebate as a tax credit on your Louisiana Income Tax Return due each May. You can also file an amended tax return in order to claim the Citizens assessment rebate from a previous year.
  2. Online. Visit www.revenue.louisiana.gov/fileonline and click on the “Citizens Insurance Rebate” option. Policyholders claiming the rebate electronically can choose to receive it by direct deposit, paper check or a debit card.
  3. On Paper. Claim the rebate by filling out form R-540INS. As soon as you pay the insurance premium that includes the Citizens assessment, you can fill out a short rebate form for each year that you paid the Citizens assessment, which is form R-540INS. You can mail or fax it in, along with your insurance declaration page for that year, which shows the amount of your paid assessment. Forms for all five calendar years are located on the LDI and LDR websites.

Business may also claim the Citizens rebate by filing the LDR 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.

The opportunity to claim the Citizens assessment rebate expires four years after the assessment is charged to the policyholders insurance premium. Therefore, assessments paid in 2006 through 2008 have already expired. However, assessments for 2009 through 2013 can still be claimed.

For more information on the Citizens assessment rebate, visit the Department of Insurance website at www.ldi.la.gov and click on the Claim Your Citizens Rebate link on the homepage.

You can also check Louisiana Citizens Rebate Quick facts webpage here for additional information.

Flood Safety Awareness Week is March 18-22

As residents of Louisiana, we know all too well the damage and destruction caused by flooding. Yearly, rising floodwaters from hurricanes such as Isaac and heavy rainfall experienced by many parishes in mid-January plague our state, yet only 25 percent of single family homes in Louisiana have flood insurance.

According to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which administers flood insurance to homeowners, renters and business owners, floods are one of the most common and costly natural disasters. They can happen anywhere, anytime, and just because your property hasn’t experienced flooding in the past, doesn’t mean that it won’t in the future.

Just a few inches of water can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage, and since most homeowners insurance policies DO NOT cover damage from flooding, having a flood insurance policy is vital for homeowners. The average cost for flood insurance in Louisiana is under $60 per month.

Flood Safety Awareness Week is a perfect time to evaluate your flood risks and learn what you can do to protect your family and property from flooding. Here are some quick facts from the NFIP:

  • Most homeowners insurance does not cover damage from floods.
  • It takes 30 days after purchase for a policy to take effect, so it’s important to buy insurance as soon as possible.
  • Properties outside of high-risk flood zones account for 25 percent of flood claims in Louisiana.
  • If you live in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) or high-risk area and have a federally backed mortgage, your mortgage lender requires you to have flood insurance.
  • You are eligible to purchase flood insurance as long as your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program.
  • New land development can increase flood risk, especially if the construction changes natural runoff paths.
  • Federal disaster assistance is usually a loan that must be paid back with interest. For a $50,000 loan at 4% interest, your monthly payment would be around $240 a month ($2,880 a year) for 30 years. Compare that to a $100,000 flood insurance premium, which is about $400 a year ($33 a month).
  • Since 1978, the NFIP has paid over $36.9 billion for flood insurance claims and related costs (as of 12/31/10).

For more information, including tips on what to do before, during and after a flood, visit the NFIP’s website at www.floodsmart.gov.

More time to file Isaac flood claims

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has once again extended the deadline for Louisiana property owners with flood insurance policies to file claims related to Hurricane Isaac. The new deadline to submit proof of loss claims is April 22, 2013.

While the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) usually requires proof of loss claims to be submitted within 60 days from the date of loss, the new 60-day extension means that Louisiana residents have 240 days. Hurricane Isaac first made landfall in Louisiana on August 28, 2012. This is the fourth time the deadline for Hurricane Isaac related flood claims has been extended.

Click here to view the official press release from FEMA.

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