Hurricane Laura survivors who are insurance policy holders were impacted by a new emergency rule by the Louisiana insurance commissioner which enables residents to file insurance claims during a situation when hundreds of thousands are still without electricity in Southwest Louisiana. 

The emergency rule covers both homeowners and business owners and adds some "necessary protections", according to the Louisiana Insurance Commission Jim Donelon.

The rule is meant to "give policyholders who have been displaced from their homes time to try and begin the process of recovery and avoid being penalized in any way for non-payment of premiums", Donelon said in a news release. 

It applies to all insurance claims, both residential and commercial properties damaged by the named storm. All policy holders who live in more than a dozen parishes impacted by the storm have a legal extension to pay insurance premiums after August 27 without any late fees, penalties, cancellations or non-renewals by the insurance company. 

It includes the following parishes: Acadia, Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Grant, Jackson, Jefferson Davis, Lincoln, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Rapides, Sabine, Vermilion, Vernon and Winn. 

The emergency rule also allows residents more time to submit claims to insurance companies which may be difficult because many evacuees are encouraged to stay away until electricity returns to Southwest Louisiana but would need to return to their home or business to file claims, even remotely. 

There is still significant communication issues with damaged cell phone towers and spotty internet service in the Lake Charles region after the storm and in-person insurance adjusting is hampered by the coronavirus pandemic. Some insurers have resorted to using drones and video calling policy holders to verify damages. 

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Email Kristen Mosbrucker at kmosbrucker@theadvocate.com.