Following the revelation that those in Louisiana tend to pay far greater auto insurance rates than just about anyone else in the country – and by a fairly wide margin – it seems that many of that state’s legislators are concerned about the impact this fact has on residents. Now, they’re moving to do something about it, and that could be big news for insurance agents who operate within the state.
The most recent data shows that Louisiana residents pay nearly $1,200 more per year to insure their cars than the average person nationally, and that spikes to nearly three times that amount within the city of New Orleans in particular, according to a report from the Baton Rouge Advocate. Some experts say that this is largely due to the fact that those involved in auto accidents are able to sue each other without a jury trial, and as such, state lawmakers and regulators are working to overhaul the system, so that it allows for more jury trials, but still cuts down on the number of them overall.
“Auto insurance … is the biggest challenge we face in Louisiana in the insurance marketplace,” Louisiana insurance commissioner Jim Donelon recently told the Baton Rouge Press Club, according to the newspaper.
What would the changes mean?
In general, experts believe that increasing the number of jury trials would likely reduce the amount that people involved in them end up having to pay in damages, the report said. Under current state law, juries can only decide cases if the damages being claimed are in excess of $50,000, and that’s about 28 times the average amount seen in the 14 states that have such thresholds in place. Otherwise, judges make such decisions.
Lawmakers are also likely to consider altering the ways in which those who go without auto insurance can receive damages, the report said. Further, it’s believed that the state may no longer allow pain and suffering damages to be part of such considerations going forward.
Whatever happens, it’s likely that Louisiana will remain a place in which the auto insurance market is extremely competitive simply because of how high costs there can be. Agents will certainly want to keep close tabs on these issues as a means of ensuring that they are as equipped as possible to handle the changes to the market going forward.