In 2019, Louisiana politicians passed a bill they touted as a major win for drivers in our state, a promise of lower insurance rates. Our Republican legislators duped the public into believing that our high auto insurance rates were due to the ridiculously high number of lawsuits filed against insurance companies by the overabundance of accident attorneys in our state.
In response, legislators passed a bill that would limit damage suits by people injured in car wrecks. They claimed the bill would make Louisiana’s auto insurance market more competitive and induce insurers to pass cost savings from the bill to consumers.
Surprisingly, Democrats such as state Sen. Jay Luneau, of Alexandria, argued the real reason for high insurance rates was not because of numerous lawsuits, but instead because insurance companies are allowed to set rates based upon demographics such as a driver’s gender, age, marital status or credit score. He filed bills aimed to prohibit that practice; they all died in committee.
Democratic lawmakers also raised concerns about the bill because there were no guarantees that insurance companies would actually lower their rates. They wanted to include a mandate ordering auto insurance companies to lower the rates by 10% to 20%.
Insurance company lobbyists and the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry would have none of that mandate, and so it failed to be included. Besides, Stephen Waguespack, head of LABI, touted the original bill as the “most important bill of the legislative session,” so how could our legislators refuse to pass it as originally proposed? So goes LABI, so goes our legislators.
Additionally, Jim Donelon, our state insurance commissioner, who was up for reelection, gave the bill his blessing with promises then that it would reduce rates by at least 10% and possibly 25%.
State Farm, the state’s largest auto insurer, got approval from Donelon and his cronies to raise rates by 4.3%.
Where are all our legislators now regarding their support of this deception that once again has impacted constituents’ wallets? Not a peep from any bill supporters. Tragically, voters keep reelecting these same folks to Baton Rouge, including the insurance commissioner, and never hold them accountable. As you write that increased check for your auto insurance, remember who is really to blame — no one but you.
retired education administrator