In many ways, the state of Louisiana is still feeling a lot of the effects of Hurricane Katrina making landfall almost exactly 10 years ago. But one area where the Pelican State has fortunately recovered in a robust way is in the home insurance market, which was battered by the impact of that first storm, as well as Hurricane Rita, which made landfall about a month later and caused still more damage. The issues that still linger in the state, however, highlight the importance of insurance agents doing more to keep their clients informed about the ins and outs of coverage, and the ways major incidents like this can impact them for what could be years to come.
In all, these two storms combined to cause some $28.4 billion in insured losses for homeowners in the state of Louisiana alone, Louisiana Commissioner of Insurance James Donelon wrote in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Of that number, $25 billion came from Katrina alone, based on roughly 725,000 claims. The other $3.4 billion was related to damage from Rita, which resulted in about 200,000 claims. Perhaps not surprisingly, these two storms battering the Gulf Coast in such rapid succession led many of the nation’s largest home insurers to significantly reduce the amount of business they took on in the region.
What happened next?
However, given the insurance vacuum created by the exodus of major home insurance companies, it seems smaller ones were more than willing to step up and fill that void, the report said. At this point, 10 years on from Katrina making landfall, 22 insurers do business in the state that did not when the major storm hit. In addition, the state has set up the Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation to provide coverage to many homeowners who might not be able to get insurance through companies large or small, but it remains just the ninth-largest insurer in the state, with policies protecting just 1.8 percent of homeowners.
Good news for consumers
In addition, the Citizens policies are those that tend to carry the most risk anyway, meaning that this risk is taken out of the private market, and drives down premiums for other homeowners considerably, the report said. Experts say that as a result of this program, the average person with a home insurance policy issued by a private insurer will tend to pay hundreds or even thousands less per year than they would have pre-Katrina.
The importance of insurers or agents making a greater effort to connect and regularly communicate with their clients about various issues they may face in the course of owning their homes, and how their insurance status impacts that. The more people understand their coverage and have a working relationship with insurers or agents, the better off they’re likely to feel they are when it comes to being in control over their situations. That, in turn, typically translates into higher levels of customer satisfaction and client retention rates for agents going forward.