‘They continue to delay us’
To deter insurers from giving policyholders the run-around, both candidates want to see Louisiana’s bad faith penalties strengthened.
A court can determine that an insurer acted in bad faith for a variety of reasons. Generally, insurers have an obligation to settle claims within 30 days of receiving proof of loss. Failure to meet that timeline is typically considered acting in bad faith, and it comes with a penalty: insurers have to pay up to 50% extra to policyholders on top of the claim owed.
But Stine said, “that doesn’t seem to have deterred them or done a whole lot. They continue to delay us.” He suggested doubling the penalty to 100%, saying that “would absolutely get insurers’ attention.”
Granger, too, said the Legislature should increase bad faith penalties – “by a lot.”
Both candidates also said the endless adjuster-swapping needs to end. Each time a new adjuster takes over, the claims process effectively begins again, requiring policyholders to spend hours explaining their situation and re-uploading photos. The average policyholder will interface with seven different adjusters, they both noted.
“Most people, especially if you’re not wealthy and privileged, don’t have time for it and they just settle for less, and the insurance companies know that and that’s the game they play,” Granger said.
Granger, 41, a financial planner, suggested a penalty on insurers who jack policyholders around between adjusters. He said he’d also like to standardize the initial claims process and extend the statute of limitations on when policyholders can sue insurers.
Granger, the Democrat, sent out a press release in October, slamming Stine for accepting donations from lobbyists who work for State Farm, Allstate and other insurers, and highlighting the candidate’s close ties with the Louisiana Association of Industry and Business.
Out of nearly $300,000 in donations, Stine has collectively received around $3,000 from firms like Southern Strategy Group, Adams & Reese, Haynie & Associates, Pivotal GR Solutions and Jones Walker, all of whom represent insurance companies, campaign finance reports show.
“It’s going to be hard for him to actually fight,” Granger said. “I’m not saying he wouldn’t do anything, maybe he would. But we may have some watered-down bills and they won’t get to the root cause of what we really need.”
Stine noted, accurately, that he hasn’t “taken a penny from insurance corporations” directly.
“When I started this campaign, one of the things I wanted to do was insurance reform, so I told my team, under no circumstances are we ever going to accept any money from insurance corporations,” Stine said.
Kevin Cunningham, a partner at Southern Strategy Group, said that when Stine visited their offices, he made it clear he didn’t want insurance industry money. Cunningham lobbies on behalf of the American Property Casualty Insurance Association but noted that insurers make up a sliver of the interest groups he represents.
A consultant for Stine’s campaign, Lauren Griffin, shot back at Granger, pointing to a $150 donation the Democrat had received from Cenla Independent Insurance. Granger, who has raised roughly $88,000, said the donation came from his best friend, adding that the firm sells health insurance, not property insurance.