NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana's insurance commissioner has a message to the state's insurers: pay for your policy-holders' evacuation expenses.
Commissioner Jim Donelon issued Directive 218, which requires insurers to pay claims for loss of use for policyholders who evacuated or were prohibited from using their premises because of Hurricane Ida.
The new directive comes after Donelon issued Bulletin 2021-07 last Friday, which asked insurers to voluntarily pay claims for prohibited use, even if parishes didn’t issue a formal mandatory evacuation order.
The new directives from the Department of Insurance came after State Farm, the state’s largest home insurer, said it would not pay loss of use claims where no express civil authority order was in place.
“Hurricane Ida was a clear and present danger to the citizens of Louisiana,” Donelon said in a news release. “Officials throughout the region took to the airwaves to get out the message that people needed to leave or stay in a safe place. Insurers must treat the many diverse actions taken by public officials as an order to leave and pay people who have coverage for their expenses.”
President Joe Biden has also urged insurance companies to pay people’s evacuation expenses.
"[President Biden is saying it's an obligation, don't hide behind a technicality," White House Senior Advisor Cedric Richmond told WWL-TV last week.
The Louisiana Department of Insurance is also encouraging everyone to keep receipts for any extra expenses they face after a disaster. Most homeowners' policies include coverage for additional living expenses (ALE), which can pay expenses beyond a policyholder’s normal expenses for housing and food, such as the cost of a hotel room or apartment rental and reasonable restaurant meals when someone is unable to cook.
If you're not covered by insurance, you should apply for Individual Assistance through FEMA. National Flood Insurance Program policies do not cover additional living expenses.