Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says he has declined State Farm's request for a regional deductible plan.
“The proposal submitted by State Farm failed to meet the requirements set forth by law,” Donelon says in a statement.
The plan State Farm submitted “neither illustrates the company’s intent to write new business nor denotes how the plan is in the best interest of policyholders,” he adds.
Legislation passed in 2008 in Louisiana allows insurers to ask the commissioner for permission to use mandatory storm deductibles in specific parishes—increasing the storm deductible in a parish by up to 4 percent of the insured value of the home. In exchange, the homeowner pays a lower premium.
Storm deductibles are triggered after wind and hail, a tropical storm or a hurricane.
State Farm was the first insurer to attempt to take advantage of the law, Donelon says.
State Farm spokesman Gary Stephenson relays the following statement via email: "We are disappointed that our request to implement revised deductibles in some coastal parishes was turned down. It is necessary for any business to be able to manage losses and find a proper balance between risk and premium resources to protect those risks. Finding such balance is vital to ensuring our ability to continue, longterm, to provide protection not only for our coastal customers, but also to our customers throughout the state.
The vulnerability of the coast, and cost of damaging storms on the coast is well known, and we must address that."
Prior to the law, an insurer couldn’t increase a deductible on a policy that had been in effect for more than three years unless the company did on all policies statewide. This remains the case in Louisiana since no insurer in the four years since the legislation was enacted has successfully received the go-ahead for a regional storm deductible plan.
"It would be unfair to ask our customers in northern Louisiana or another state to pay for the risk-cost along the coast," Stephenson continues. "It is important that we find ways for customers in each region to be responsible for the risks of their particular area."
To be approved to implement a regional deductible plan, insurers must met 10 criteria, including a plan to write new business where it will increase the deductible.
In a letter denial State Farm’s request, the Louisiana Department of Insurance says State Farm “clearly denoted that it is the company’s intent to not write any new business” where it wanted to increase the deductible.
State Farm failed to meet 7 or the 10 criteria, Donelon says.
State Farms says it will continue to work with the insurance department to "find appropriate solutions to the challenges we face together."