State Farm resisting Hurricane Ida evacuation compensation order
It's been a long week of haggling between insurance agency State Farm and Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Donelon ordered insurance companies to cover the costs of evacuating for their customers from the 25 parishes labeled a disaster area. State Farm is the only insurer not agreeing to the command.
"Their actions will either lead to an appeal to the courts challenging my order," Donelon said. "Or it will be a reaction to my enforcement actions when I have evidence of their proof of disregard to that order, and I will issue my enforcement policy."
Typically, evacuation costs are only covered if homeowners live in a mandatory evacuation area, but Donelon wants costs covered for others as well. The order would cover 14 days of expenses for food, hotels, and gasoline to evacuate.
The dispute does not impact any customer's policy. Donelon says he doesn't see State Farm pulling out of Louisiana over the order, either.
"Their policy is secure," Donelon said. "We do have protections in the law for those who have been with their insurer for more than three years. So they should file their claim and if they have problems they can file a complaint."
The wrangling over evacuation costs isn't the only issue. Changes to how flood insurance rates are set could spike prices.
"The proposed new system for settling rates called "Risk Rating 2.0" moves away from the elevation, levees, the traditional ways of pricing flood insurance for the NFIP, which is a FEMA program," Donelon said. "It moves to a new system that has not been made public yet."
Republican members of Congress from Louisiana are working to delay the change. For now, Donelon is focused on the immediate aftermath of the storm and policy holders' peace of mind.
"So that's unfortunate to be where we are," Donelon said. "The insurance part will be front and center. The insurance part will cover most of the bill for that recovery."