By Max Dorfman, Analysis Author, Triple-I
Louisiana lawmakers passed several bills to bolster the state’s weakened property insurance coverage market through the not too long ago accomplished 2023 legislative session. These included one that will have required events to a lawsuit to reveal third-party litigation funding agreements inside 60 days of a submitting. Nevertheless, that laws was vetoed by Gov. John Bel Edwards, and lawmakers don’t plan to override it.
Additionally included was a broad ban on project of advantages (AOB), the apply by which policyholders signal over to a 3rd social gathering – a contractor, lawyer, or public adjuster – their proper to invoice an insurance coverage firm immediately for repairs or different providers. Whereas this can be a frequent apply throughout the nation, in some states – notably, Florida and Louisiana – it has been a supply of in depth declare fraud.
The Louisiana property insurance coverage market has been considerably weakened because the state was hit by document hurricane exercise through the 2020/2021 seasons. Certainly, 11 insurers that write householders protection in Louisiana have been declared bancrupt between July 2021 and February 2023. Moreover, 12 insurers withdrew from the state and 50 corporations stopped writing new enterprise in hurricane-prone parishes, making a capability disaster.
A persistent drawback
Authorized system abuse has been a persistent situation in Louisiana for a while. The state’s “onerous dangerous religion legal guidelines contribute considerably to inflated claims funds and awards,” according to a joint paper printed by the American Property Casualty Insurance coverage Affiliation (APCIA), the Reinsurance Affiliation of America (RAA), and the Affiliation of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers (ABIR).
These issues have been highlighted in February 2023, when Insurance coverage Commissioner Jim Donelon issued a cease-and-desist order in opposition to a Houston-based legislation agency, accusing it of fraud involving doubtlessly lots of of hurricane-related claims in his state. In response to Donelon, the agency filed greater than 1,500 Hurricane Laura declare lawsuits in Louisiana over the span of three months in 2022, previous to the deadline to file fits over the Class 4 main hurricane that struck the state in 2020.
“The dimensions and scope of McClenny, Moseley & Associates’ (MM&A) unlawful insurance coverage scheme is like nothing I’ve seen earlier than,” Donelon mentioned in a press launch. “It’s uncommon for the division to situation regulatory actions in opposition to entities we don’t regulate, however on this case, the order is important to guard policyholders from the agency’s fraudulent insurance coverage exercise.”
According to reporting by the Occasions Picayune/New Orleans Advocate, an investigation by the Louisiana Division of Insurance coverage discovered the Houston-based legislation agency engaged in insurance coverage fraud and unfair commerce practices by way of Alabama-based Apex Roofing and Restoration and has confronted accusations of legal conduct and mounting sanctions. MM&A has since shut down its operations in Louisiana.
Litigation funding reform vetoed
Third-party litigation funding happens when traders finance lawsuits in opposition to massive corporations in return for a share within the settlement. Funding of lawsuits by international hedge funds and other financial third parties – with no stake within the final result apart from a share of the settlement – has change into a $17 billion world trade, according to Swiss Re. Legislation agency Brown Rudnick sees the trade as even bigger, at $39 billion world trade in 2019, according to Bloomberg.
Some states have thought of mandating larger transparency across the apply, and Montana in May permitted laws requiring sure disclosures in litigation financing. Louisiana’s Senate Invoice 196 would have required events to a lawsuit to reveal such preparations inside 60 days of submitting a swimsuit.
Insurer incentive grants boosted
The Louisiana Legislature additionally agreed to allocate an additional $10 million for the beforehand permitted insurer incentive program, bringing to $55 million the quantity out there to insurers that conform to enter the state’s dwelling insurance coverage market to supply new protection.
Additionally included within the payments is $30 million for a long-term grant program to assist householders fortify their properties in opposition to hurricanes – a 50 % enhance over the quantity Donelon mentioned when planning for the legislative session.