WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 15, 2017) – (RealEstateRama) — The eleventh round of depopulation is underway for the Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens) and Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon points to the program’s ongoing success as a sign of the strength of the Louisiana homeowners insurance market.
“We have been able to stabilize our homeowners market and find an equilibrium where even consumers in high-risk areas can find better rates in the private market than with Citizens,” said Commissioner Donelon. “Ten years ago, Citizens was the third largest insurer in our state. Today, we estimate it’s 35th. This level of competition is good news for consumers and for the state’s ability to recover from future storms.”
During the annual depopulation process Citizens is required to open up its book of business and offer to transfer policies to the private market. This results in lower premiums for policyholders and reduces the potential need for future assessments charged to all property insurance consumers across the state. As the state’s insurer of last resort, Citizens offers property insurance to any home or business owner that cannot otherwise obtain it at rates adjusted annually to keep it noncompetitive with the private market.
According to Citizens, this year five companies requested 10,072 residential policies, dropping the personal lines policy count to about 39,000 residential policies. For the first time, commercial lines policies were also requested in depopulation. One company, Safepoint, is authorized to receive 161 commercial lines policies. Including commercial policies, Citizens’ total policy count in 2018 will be about 40,800, down from 174,000 in 2008. The Louisiana Department of Insurance (LDI) estimates Citizens will have an estimated 0.5 percent of the Louisiana homeowners market – down from 9.8 percent in 2008.
All five companies participating in this year’s round of depopulation have previously participated in the program. Access Home Insurance Company, Maison Insurance Company, Ocean Harbor Casualty Insurance Company, Safepoint Insurance Company, and Spinnaker Insurance Company are participating. A letter from Citizens notifies consumers whose policies are selected for depopulation. Policyholders have until February 28, 2018 to opt out of moving to a private company and choose to stay with Citizens. More information can be found on the Citizens website at www.lacitizens.com/depopulation.
Commissioner Donelon also reminds Louisiana property insurance policyholders that the opportunity to file for the partially refundable 2013 Citizens assessment expires December 31, 2017. The Citizens Assessment is to pay off the bonds issued by Citizens to cover the costs of damages caused by Hurricane Katrina. More than $36 million, or 53 percent, of the partially refundable assessments available for 2013 remains unclaimed. Whether you are with Citizens or another insurer, all property insurance policyholders pay the Citizens assessment and are entitled to claim the rebate.
Policyholders who have paid the assessment can file for a rebate online, on paper or on their annual tax returns. Residential and commercial forms and additional information are available on the Louisiana Department of Insurance website at www.ldi.la.gov/citizensrebate. Policyholders can currently claim rebates for assessments charged in years 2013 through 2017.
Following the passage of Act 125 of the 2015 Legislative Session, 72 percent of the assessments for 2013 through 2015 is refundable. Act 9 of the 2016 Second Extraordinary Legislative Session further reduced the refundable amount to 25 percent of the assessments paid for 2016 and 2017. The dollar amount of the assessment can be found on the declaration page of the insurance policy.
Retirements and Promotion
Entering 2018, the leadership of Citizens will see some changes. The retirement of two long-serving employees, Chief Operating Officer Vijay Ramachandran and Chief Financial Officer Steve Cottrell, has led to a change in management structure at the insurer. Joseph Sciortino will step into the Vice President of Accounting and Finance position in 2018. Additionally, Governor Jon Bel Edwards has appointed Denise Gardner, who recently retired from the LDI, to the Board.
About the Louisiana Department of Insurance: The Louisiana Department of Insurance works to improve competition in the state’s insurance market while assisting individuals and businesses with the information and resources they need to be informed consumers of insurance. As a regulator, the LDI enforces the laws that provide a fair and stable marketplace and makes certain that insurers comply with the laws in place to protect policyholders. You can contact the LDI by calling 1-800-259-5300 or visiting www.ldi.la.gov.