Hurricane insurance in Louisiana takes center focus for Citizens

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The insurer of last result is concentrating on settling severe weather lawsuits.

Citizens Property Insurance Corp. in Louisiana is working to negotiate the settlements of the last two hurricane insurance class action lawsuits that it has been handling regarding the claims from Katrina and Rita.

The board has voted to authorize two settlement negotiator groups to work on establishing agreements.

According to the CEO of Citizens, Richard Robertson, “The board really would like to get these cases resolved and move forward.” Any of the proposals that are made will be required to be presented to the board for approval at its September meeting.

No details regarding the funds for the hurricane insurance suit settlements have been revealed.

The amount of money that has been set aside to be offered for the settlements has not been identified, and Robertson has stated that he is not able to estimate the amount that the hurricane insurance might cost the insurer. The majority of the discussions regarding the suits have been held behind closed doors in extensive meetings.

The lawsuit itself is regarding the slow processing and handling of the hurricane insurance claims that were filed in 2005 following the devastating storms that crushed many parts of the state. One of the class action lawsuits, said Robertson, involved between 12,000 and 14,000 policyholders. The other involves almost 26,000 policyholders.

The effort to negotiate a settlement for the two lawsuits that remain outstanding is following a payment of $104 million judgment that was made against Citizens in July. In that case, 18,500 policyholders had sued the insurer due to the slow adjustment that it provided for its hurricane insurance claims following those storms.

When Robertson was asked to comment on Citizen’s ability to come up with enough funds in order to pay for the settlements that are currently being negotiated, his reply was simply “Depends on how much they are.” At times that the insurer’s money for the payment of claims begins to dwindle, it performs an assessment of private insurers for each of the property policies, and that expense is then passed along to customers of private carriers.

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