BATON ROUGE (AP) — As Louisiana continues to be plagued by a spiraling insurance crisis, with insurers leaving the state and canceling homeowner policies as thousands of claims remain unpaid following a series of hurricanes, Gov. John Bel Edwards will travel to London this week to meet with a leading insurance underwriter.
During the economic development trip, the Democratic governor's sixth international trip, Edwards will also meet with high-ranking executives of major energy companies, including Shell, to discuss the company's expanding portfolio of clean energy investments. On Sunday he will attend the New Orleans Saints game, which is being played in London as part of the NFL's annual International Series.
“I am excited to be able to capitalize on this opportunity to represent Louisiana’s economic and cultural interests on the world stage,” Edwards said in a press release Tuesday. “Few states are more directly impacted by the insurance underwriting and energy markets than Louisiana, which is why it’s so important to maintain an open dialogue with global leaders in those sectors."
Following a series of damaging hurricanes in 2020 and 2021 — Delta, Laura, Zeta and Ida — more than 610,000 residential property claims were filed in Louisiana, according to Louisiana Department of Insurance data. As a result, property insurers have paid out $18.4 billion in claims as of June 30, about $11 billion of that was paid to homeowners.
But as claims have piled up, nine insurance companies that wrote homeowners policies in the state have gone insolvent, The Advocate reports. Five of the firms left behind some 26,000 claims for the state’s bailout program to close out. In addition, at least 11 other companies have withdrawn from the state, either by canceling existing policies or announcing they won’t renew them.
“Thousands of Louisianans are not only still recovering from damage caused by devastating storms, but they are also dealing with unpaid claims, insurance companies folding, and problems finding new insurance coverage," Edwards said. "We must find a way to solve this crisis."
Edwards, and a delegation of Louisiana business and state leaders, will meet with Lloyd’s of London, the world’s oldest insurance market, to discuss topics including reinsurance protection for companies doing business in the state and legislative and regulatory changes that would make Louisiana more attractive to insurers, the governor said.
As the governor prepares for his trip, Hurricane Ian tore into western Cuba Tuesday, leaving 1 million people without electricity. Ian is expected to get even stronger over the warm Gulf of Mexico, reaching top winds of 130 mph (209 kph) as it approaches the southwest coast of Florida, where 2.5 million people have been ordered to evacuate.
Edwards said that Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and other state agencies stand ready to offer assistance to Florida, or any other states that may be impacted by the Hurricane.