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How Hurricane Ian could impact Louisiana's insurance crisis, and what to do

Devin Bartolotta has the scoop on how to navigate the insurance crisis in Louisiana as Hurricane Ian approaches Florida.

NEW ORLEANS — While Hurricane Ian won’t hit Louisiana, it may make the ongoing insurance crisis in Louisiana even worse.

It comes as a ninth insurance company in Louisiana announced this week that it is leaving the state. 

“It is truly a crisis,” Thomas Hymel, owner and producer of Riverlands Insurance Services said. 

Hymel said his company has already had to find new policies for about 20% of its clients this year.

“We’ve probably moved seven thousand people from Company A to Company B. Sometimes when we move them to Company B, Company B went out as well,” Hymel said. “Therefore we had to move them to Company C, so we’ve touched those policies several times.”

But even more, companies could go under. Some companies already struggling after paying out millions in Louisiana over the last two years will soon have to pay out Hurricane Ian claims in Florida.

“When they take a direct hit in Florida like they’re gonna do in the next 48 hours, there’s only so much money to pay claims,” he said.

So what do you do if you get that dreaded letter saying you’re no longer covered?

Step 1: Call your insurance agent. Hymel recommends calling right away, so you don’t have a lapse in insurance coverage.

“Even if they haven’t spoken to their agent in a very long time. Call their agent and find out what their options are. Dependent on their agent’s capability, if they’re a captive agent such as State Farm, or Farm Bureau, or one of those, Allstate, or if they’re an independent agent, they may have other options inside of their agency that they can market their home from company A over to company B,” Hymel said.

Step 2: Start shopping around. Call other agencies to find out what’s on the market for your parish. The further south of I-10, the fewer options you may have. Hymel says Progressive and All State have recently stopped writing new policies in some parishes.

“We have about four options available currently. Whereas six months ago we might have had 12 or 15 options available. So we’ve lost nine, some others have stopped writing, so we’re limited down to three or four,” he said.

Step 3: Make sure your new policy is updated with any renovations to your home and you have all the coverage you need. But with fewer choices out there, it could cost you thousands more than you used to pay. If no company will take your business, Louisiana Citizens is the insurance of last resort.

Hymel says some companies are supposed to start writing new policies again in 2023. But with huge storms – like Ian – pounding the Gulf Coast over the last few years, it may take years until Louisianans have more insurance options re-entering the market.

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