Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Surplus Line Reporter and Insurance News.
By ARDIE CESARIO
A CBS reporter was speaking with a man in Houma whose home was destroyed by hurricane Ida. The reporter asked if the man was going to move. He replied, “Of course not. I will rebuild. This is my home….I love Louisiana.”
We share his sentiments in our love for our home, our culture and our way of life. From an insurance perspective, however, we bring a tremendous amount of exposure. As we are aware, we have exposure to flooding, hurricanes, hail storms, liberal juries, and past corruption. Our culture even involves assumption of risk. We enjoy going to parades where they throw things at us. We are unique but undesirable in many ways for insurance risks.
Storm clouds continue into 2022 and beyond with rising insurance rates in wind and hail and flood exposures. Reinsurance will experience tougher treaties and higher rates, and insurance carriers will offer rising renewals … if they renew at all. Insurance companies that have become insolvent will be required to be bailed out by the Louisiana Insurance Guaranty Fund, and our admitted carriers will be assessed to pay for others’ failure. Every insurance purchaser will be impacted by the rising cost of coverage.
Finger pointing will no doubt merely add to the frustration. The importance of insurance and the cost of insurance will be on the minds of many Louisiana consumers.
Our problem has been a long time in the making. We can celebrate some victories in that our insurance department under the leadership of Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon has brought respectability to the office which sent three commissioners to prison. We now have two universities offering degreed programs in insurance to recognize that insurance is in fact a rising profession. Some tort reforms have been approved, and laws already exist to protect the consumer.
A new year can and should bring a new perspective to begin anew with new goals and new radical ideas. Going forward insurance should take on a new focus. This focus could be given more emphasis at the university level.
More professional training is needed. The emphasis should include more focus on actuarial research. Every admitted insurance carrier should compute a comprehensive probable maximum loss analysis of their Louisiana exposure to prevent further insolvencies.
With the great financial minds existing in our state, we should grow our own insurance financial stand-alone exposure markets to compliment Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp.
In the early 90s, we had a workers’ comp crisis, but with the introduction of LWCC we attracted other markets which we enjoy today.
We need a wind tunnel so we can study construction improvements we must make. We need to revisit watershed analysis to determine what mitigation methods we can explore to prevent flooding and its impact.
Our community colleges should be training more agents, adjustors and support personnel.
Louisiana has a poor reputation for relying on junk science in court cases. Research and development done by credible unbiased research at our universities could be a true win/win. The appraisal condition currently found in insurance policies is vastly underutilized and could help the claims process, especially after a major hurricane.
In the quest for improvement, everyone needs to be invited to the table, including the plaintiff bar. We must appeal to their higher angels, so they can be part of the solution.
There are no simple solutions to complex problems. Louisiana has a tremendous amount of talent to solve the problems we face. Doing nothing cannot be our only option.
ARDIE CESARIO currently is a producer and teaches a pre-licensing insurance course at Bossier Parish Community College and prior to that at LSUS. He is retired from the CNA Insurance Company and has 45 years of insurance experience. After living in numerous states, he returned to his home state of Louisiana. He is the author of two books and wants to work toward Louisiana achieving its full insurance potential before his death.