Special session on insurance back in play | Local Politics


The Legislature may hold a special session next month to address Louisiana’s property insurance crisis, Senate President Page Cortez said Saturday morning.

State leaders are grappling with how to get property insurers into the state and reverse a trend of firms fleeing or going out of business after multiple hurricanes struck the state in recent years.

Cortez, a Lafayette Republican, said he plans to meet with Gov. John Bel Edwards, possibly Wednesday, to finalize plans on the need for a session and when it would happen.

“I don’t think any of us have a different solution,” he said.

The Senate leader also said he thinks it could be finished ahead of Mardi Gras — a vacation time statewide — since the meeting would likely be limited.

“I think the idea is it is really one appropriation bill,” Cortez said.

Edwards’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

State Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon has been pressing for a special session since late last year.

Donelon, a former House member, said he wants to launch an incentive program to lure property insurers into the state.

The move is also aimed at reducing the rolls of the hard-pressed Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state-run insurer of last resort.

Those policyholders are facing huge rate hikes.

A similar plan was launched after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.

But in December Cortez and other state leaders, incuding Edwards, were unenthusiastic about a special session and said the issue could wait until the 2023 regular legislative session.

Cortez said what changed is the view that, to attract insurance companies to Louisiana, they would have to get re-insurance themselves ahead of hurricane season and that process happens in late February or March.

Donelon has asked lawmakers to let him use $15 million in leftover premium tax revenue to get the incentive program started.

Around $45 million total has been discussed, Cortez said.

Check back with The Advocate for more details.

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