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Gov. Landry criticizes insurance rates, vetoes bipartisan bill to restrict payout costs

3 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago Tuesday, June 18 2024 Jun 18, 2024 June 18, 2024 9:27 PM June 18, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - At the start of this year's legislative session, Governor Jeff Landry promised to tackle Louisiana’s insurance crisis, but now he has vetoed a bill attempting to lower payouts if a car wreck gets to trial. 

Landry on Tuesday vetoed House Bill 423 by Rep. Michael Melerine, R-Shreveport, which received bipartisan support in the legislature. Melerine says the measure aims to lower auto insurance premium costs by limiting trial damages paid to an injured party if the wreck goes to trial. 

Melerine explained how the current system operates. He said that if a person is injured in a car wreck and goes to a hospital, the facility might charge a certain amount for care. Through negotiations with the insurance companies and the hospital, the initial amount is discounted. 

If a personal injury lawsuit related to the wreck goes to trial, the jury could see both the sticker price and the discounted price to determine how much of the money is paid to the victim. The party responsible for the injuries can be liable to pay up to 40 percent more than the actual cost of damages and medical bills.

Melerine says his bill changed the process. It would have allowed the jury to see only the amount billed by the medical provider for their treatment, and would have limited a jury award to 30 percent more than the actual costs. 

“You would have been made whole,” Rep. Melerine said. “You just would not have gotten that extra windfall, that up to 30 percent difference.”

Merlinine believes that changing the percentages would decrease insurance premiums for Louisianians and begin to fix the system. 

Landry was critical of the measure, which he said would limit the monetary judgment a victim receives.

States like Maine were touted for having the lowest auto insurance rates in the country, while Louisiana has the most expensive. He suggested vetoing the measure could replicate the success of other states.  

“It’s as if the insurance company tells you that you’re going to die, we should just lay down and die,” Landry said.

The governor added, by having insurance, individuals should be rewarded - which the current law does,, especially when their lives are upended. 

Melerine insisted insurance costs will continue to climb if the problem isn’t addressed. He said he would be willing to bring forward bills in future sessions which emulate statutes in low-cost states. 

“You have to look at it, as a whole, and that’s why I brought this bill. Because in Louisiana, this was a way to address a Louisiana specific issue,” Melerine said.

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