Just two days before the 15th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Category 4 Hurricane Laura made landfall near Cameron, Louisiana. Although the “unsurvivable” 20-foot storm surge, which had been predicted ahead of the storm, thankfully was significantly less, the impact of Laura on the Southwest Coast of Louisiana and Southeast Coast of Texas and its neighboring parishes and counties, most notably Cameron Parish, was quite severe. Lake Charles, Louisiana suffered widespread flooding and sustained catastrophic wind damage. Although the storm moved quickly, it retained its strength longer than expected such that even areas well inland sustained considerable damage. Preliminary estimates for insured losses from storm surge, flooding, and winds range from $8 to $12 billion for residential and commercial properties. Insurers providing residential or commercial property insurance in Louisiana should keep the following statutory claims handling requirements in mind.
Louisiana Statutory Provisions
Under Louisiana law, an insurer is expected to comply with certain statutory requirements in investigating and handling claims submitted by its insureds and third-party claimants. The majority of these requirements, and the consequences of their violation, are codified by La. R.S. 22:1892, which governs the payment and adjustment of claims, and La. R.S. 22:1973, which delineates an insurer’s duty of good faith. Together, the statutes impose three requirements on insurers: timely initiation of loss adjustment, timely payment of claims, and a duty of good faith and fairness in the adjustment and payment of said claims.