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MONTHLY REPORT
Volume 13, Issue 8
August 2013


Members

Commissioner Jim Donelon
Theodore "Ted" Haik, Jr., Chair
Jeff Albright, Vice Chair

Ray Aleman, Jr.
Lee Ann Alexander
J.E. Brignac, Jr.
Paul Buffone
Stephen F. Campbell
Anne Cassity
Sheriff Greg Champagne
Representative Greg Cromer

Manuel DePascual (Alternate)
Louis G. Fey, Jr.
Michael Guy
Chris Haik
Lance "Wes" Hataway
Ron Henderson
Senator Eric LaFleur
Scott Landry
LTC John A. LeBlanc
Ann Metrailer (Alternate)
Robert Moorman
Senator Dan "Blade" Morrish
Representative Kirk Talbot
Earl Taylor


Staff


Terrell B. Moss, Director

David Evans,
Supervisor/Research Analyst

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devans@ldi.la.gov

Hurricane Season Update

So far this hurricane season has been a mild one with six tropical storms, but we are now in what historically has been the most active part of the season – mid-August through late October. Earlier this month Colorado State University (CSU) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration slightly lowered the respective forecast each made this spring for the number of named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes.

CSU estimates a 40 percent chance of a major hurricane, Category 3 or higher, striking the Gulf Coast during the remainder of the season. The full-season average for the last century is 30 percent. In its forecast update on August 2, CSU predicted a 40 percent chance that a hurricane, and a 16 percent chance that a major hurricane, will make landfall in Louisiana between August and November 30.

Commissioner Donelon spoke about hurricane season at the LPCIC meeting held on August 20, noting, “The season peak is September 11, with fewer hurricanes making landfall in the states after that time. We are the third highest landfall state behind Texas and Florida. But the good news is Florida went 12 years without a major event after Hurricane Andrew, so we do not have to think we are always going to have a Katrina, Rita, Gustav, or Isaac come ashore in Louisiana. We can be blessed, as we have been so far this year.”

August 29 marks the 8th anniversary of Katrina’s landfall in Louisiana with its devastating surge, winds and rain. Less than a month later will mark the 8th anniversary of Rita. For Louisiana residents these are benchmarks; although Gustav, Ike, and Isaac have since left their marks as well. Repairs have been made and improvements in our building code, levees, and along our coastline have been implemented and continue. It is important that as time passes and our mitigating infrastructure builds, we do not become complacent in our preparations at any time during hurricane season.

The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) has recently published the “Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Guide,” which offers comprehensive information on hurricane and disaster preparations, as well as evacuation routes and emergency shelters. The Guide is available on GOHSEP’s website, www.gohsep.la.gov.

The Department of Insurance has a number of excellent guides posted on its website at www.ldi.state.la.us/consumers/miscellaneous_pubs.html, that can help you prepare before and after a storm.


LDI Recovers Additional Money for Consumers, With Over 63 Percent of the Complaints Concerning Property Casualty Insurance

The Louisiana Department of Insurance (LDI) has recently tallied its efforts on behalf of consumers for the first six months of 2013. LDI classifies a consumer’s request for assistance as either an inquiry, which is a consumer’s request for information without expressing a grievance, or a complaint, which is a consumer’s formal communication of a grievance or problem.

Between January and June of this year the Property and Casualty Consumer Affairs Division of LDI received almost 1,700 inquiries. Of the 1,537 consumer complaints resolved by LDI in the first half of 2013, 983 were related to property and casualty insurance. The LDI’s efforts on behalf of P&C consumer complainants resulted in more than $3.3 million in additional payments to the policyholders. As reported in the LPCIC’s January newsletter, LDI secured only slightly more for P&C consumer complaints for all of 2012.

“The experienced LDI staff can assist consumers to secure additional insurance settlements when their particular case warrants such action. Our staff can advise on when to file a complaint against an insurance company and help resolve disputes with insurers,” said Commissioner Donelon. “We can assist in determining what options are available to consumers when they are unsatisfied with the resolution of a claim.”

Consumer Insurance Dispute Settlements (January 1 – June 30, 2013)

Insurance Product

Inquiries

Complaints Filed

Funds Recovered

Life & Annuities

188

217

$ 472,800.35

Property & Casualty

1,698

983

$ 3,318,261.96

Health

368

335

$ 282,441.06

TOTAL

2,254

1,537

$ 4,073,503.37

Baton Rouge Study Finds Its Red-Light Cameras Reduce Crashes

Two years ago this September the LPCIC received testimony on the use and impact of red-light cameras in the reduction of crashes at signal-controlled intersections, particularly right angle/broadside crashes, which produce the most severe injuries. One presentation provided extensive background, nationwide experience, independent before-and-after-camera studies, and the process of ticket issuance.

The other presentation was from the Chief Traffic Engineer for the City of Baton Rouge, who explained the objectives, site selection, and implementation of his city’s red-light camera enforcement begun in 2008. The Chief Engineer indicated an overall decrease in crashes at the camera-policed intersections, but was reluctant to provide a figure because of insufficient data covering only one year.

Recently, Baton Rouge released data for those intersections where cameras were installed in 2008. Crash data for the monitored intersections was compiled for the pre-camera years of 2006 and 2007, and the camera-enforcement years 2009 through 2011. When the averages for the pre and post camera periods were compared it revealed that right angle crashes declined 40 percent from an average of 69 to 41 per year, while rear end crashes increased four percent, injuries decreased 15 percent, and total crashes declined seven percent.

The use of red-light cameras remains today as controversial an issue as it was at the LPCIC meeting two years ago. The LPCIC will continue to monitor the effectiveness of red-light cameras in reducing crashes and improving driver behavior, as well as its acceptance by local governments and the general public as a suitable enforcement tool.

Have a Safe Labor Day Holiday!

The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission is coordinating a Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign conducted by the State Police and 117 local law enforcement agencies from August 16 through Labor Day on September 2. The increased impaired driving enforcement will include saturation patrols, checkpoints and other efforts such as “no refusal” of breathalyzer tests in some jurisdictions.

According to preliminary data for Louisiana during the 2012 Labor Day holiday, 331 crashes directly resulted in seven deaths and 569 injuries. Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission and LPCIC member, said the campaign focuses on impaired driving because alcohol is a leading factor in many of Louisiana’s fatal crashes. Preliminary 2012 statistics indicate that 40 percent of the fatal crashes in the state were alcohol related last year.

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