Citizens homeowners rates to increase

East Baton Rouge Parish homeowners who buy coverage from Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp. would see rates increase an average of 9.9 percent while wind-only policies would jump by 17.1 percent under a proposed rate filing.

Ascension Parish homeowners would see an increase of 0.3 percent and wind-only rates rise 8.5 percent. In Livingston Parish, homeowners rates would rise 0.1 percent and wind-only rates 11.9 percent.

Lafayette Parish homeowners would see rates rise an average of 4.4 percent, while wind-only policies, which basically cover hurricane damage, would drop 1.6 percent under the proposed rate filing.

Iberia Parish homeowners would see rates increase by 2.3 percent north of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and drop by 19.3 percent south of the waterway. Wind-only policies south of the Intracoastal would fall by 14.1 percent.

At present, there are no Citizens homeowners or wind-only policies in Iberia Parish south of the Intracoastal.

Statewide, Citizens personal lines, which include homeowners, renters, mobile home, condominiums and wind-only coverages, would increase an average of 5.2 percent.

The Citizens board voted Thursday to submit the rate filing to the state Department of Insurance for approval. Board members Jim Napper and William Starr voted against the measure. Board members Eric Berger; state Rep. Greg Cromer, R-Slidell; Gene Galligan; state Sen. Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte; Craig LeBouef; state Sen. Dan “Blade” Morrish, R-Jennings; and Eugene Montgomery voted in favor.

“There were no hurricanes. Nothing was happening. I saw no reason to increase rates,” Starr said.

Under the proposal, rates for about 90 percent of Citizens personal lines policyholders would increase an average of 6.7 percent, Chief Financial Officer Steve Cottrell said. Rates for policyholders in the areas below the Intracoastal would drop an average of 8 percent.

State law requires Citizens to charge 10 percent more than private insurers except in some coastal parishes.

Cottrell said Citizens based its rates on those of 71 private insurers that offered the same coverages in Louisiana.

Berger said the fact Louisiana has that many property insurance companies is amazing.

“This is a complete validation for everything that we’ve been doing,” Berger said. “I wonder how many (companies) are writing in Florida?”

Louisiana modeled Citizens after Florida’s insurer of last resort. In Florida, the state-backed Citizens ballooned into the state’s largest property insurer with about 1 million policyholders and potential losses of more than $300 billion.

Louisiana’s Citizens has roughly 89,000 personal lines policyholders.

Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon said the bulk of the proposed rate increase was driven by State Farm’s most recent rate increase. The company’s homeowners rates rose an average of 8.7 percent statewide.