Gulf Coast homeowners and businesses alike are experiencing game-changing premium increases on their insurance policies due to record claims during hurricane seasons over recent years. Hurricane Laura proved that not even north Louisiana is exempt when she arrived here as a Category 2 storm.
The Winn Parish School Board felt the brunt of that news when they heard in a special session June 13 that insurance costs could jump some $275,000 (both property and workers compensation), up from $578,000 for the school year just ending to $852,000 for the 2023-24 school year.
John Caro with Brown & Brown explained that pressures on the insurance market due to extreme storms in the region have caused many carriers to “flee” Louisiana, creating less competition and even higher rates from those remaining. Additionally, since carriers are willing to cover only smaller risks, it is necessary for the agent to split the board’s coverage between several. Increases in deductibles are also a factor.
The agent explained several cost-cutting measures which were embraced by the board. The first is a “loss limit” (or maximum payout) approach. Some gulf coast systems with much larger property values have opted for a $25 million cap. Winn opted for a $50 million cap, meaning that while all $84 million of Winn’s properties would be insured, $50 million would be the maximum payout for a single event. Discussion touched on the remote possibility of all buildings being hit at the same time. Note that if another storm came along, that cap would be reset at $50 million. Damages to the Winn system during Hurricane Laura totaled only $2 million.
A second measure suggested is to drop insurance on unused buildings within the system. Those are structures which, if damaged or destroyed, the board would not rebuild. Payment on those would only be “actual value” which may not be enough to have debris hauled away. These buildings would still have liability coverage.
In the area of workers compensation, Caro explained that Winn has had a history of claims through the years, some through the numbers, several through high payouts, that have kept rates high. The company that has carried Winn for the past eight years will not renew the policy, Caro said. However, the agent found another company, LWCC, that does not increase premiums based on claims and actually pays dividends back to clients. The Workers Comp premium will rise from $198,000 to $359,000. The company will also bring in a team to design a safer work environment for teachers, administrators, drivers and other school employees.
With the trimming, the final tally for both property and Workers Comp will be $852,000.
P-1 pix: Insurance Superintendent (no cutline. Pix of 3 people conferring, including Supt. Probably crop out Joe Lynn Browning for too wide a photo, unless you prefer.)
Cutline for story: Insurance Agent Talks (Pix of man talking, with 3 board members visible.)
Brown & Brown agent John Caro explains the 2023-24 insurance coverage to the school board. Members at that end of the table are Steve Vines, Amber Cox and Lance Underwood.