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NAMIC Affiliates with New Coalition to Make La. Market More Competitive

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The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) is a member of a new broad-based group of business and professional organizations that just recently formed.

The Coalition to Insure Louisiana (CIL) was established to address the growing insurance availability problem, and in doing so, reportedly promote a more competitive insurance marketplace in the state. The coalition supports a legislative package that would modernize Louisiana’s insurance regulatory system and make insurance more available to consumers and businesses in the state.

“NAMIC joined the coalition because consumers are best served by a competitive marketplace,” said Neil Alldredge, NAMIC’s state relations manager. “Competitive insurance markets keep rates down, spur innovation among companies and allow regulators to focus their resources on monitoring market conduct practices and insolvency.”

The Louisiana Senate passed the coalition’s proposal to modernize the insurance ratemaking process by implementing a “flex band” rating system by a vote of 31-3 on April 31. It now heads to the House for debate.

Pending bills provide some modernization of insurance ratemaking in Louisiana while maintaining an oversight role for the Louisiana Insurance Rating Commission. Insurers would be allowed the freedom to make adjustments to their rates within a 10 percent band-up or down-without appearing before the rating commission. The commission’s actuarial staff would still review the rate adjustments and determine if they are actuarially justified.

Several states, such as South Carolina and Oklahoma, have implemented flex rating with positive results. Since South Carolina switched to a flex-rating system in 1999, 105 new auto insurers entered the market, average auto insurance rates reportedly decreased and drivers in the state’s residual market plan dropped dramatically.

“The legislative package offered by the coalition would bring much needed reform to Louisiana consumers. NAMIC is pleased to support these efforts and gratified that the state senate has already seen the wisdom of a “flex band” rating system,” said Alldredge.

The remainder of the coalition’s legislative package includes proposals that would provide a modified approach for the state-run property and casualty insurance plans of last resort, the Louisiana FAIR and Coastal Plans; and lower the monetary threshold for obtaining a trial by jury.

Reforming Louisiana FAIR and Coastal Plans would reportedly bolster the homeowners market.

Modeled on a system recently implemented in Florida, proposed reforms would permit (1) corporate tax free buildup of catastrophe loss reserves; (2) bond financing to spread catastrophe losses over time and reduce assessments; and (3) the spread of FAIR and Coastal Plans catastrophe losses over all property insurance policyholders.

The coalition also supports bills that would lower the jury trial threshold from $50,000 to $10,000. Louisiana is one of only two states in the nation that requires individual claims to reach $50,000 before a jury is allowed to hear a case, according to the coalition.

The coalition believes the jury process provides the greatest amount of access and fairness for all parties involved, and Louisiana consumers and businesses should have an opportunity to have their peers judge the facts in a court of law.


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