Insurance Commissioner Wants Insurers to Pay Evacuation Costs

Tropical Weather Atlantic
Vehicles head slowly east on the Interstate-10 twin spans leaving New Orleans while only a trickle of cars heads west back into the city before landfall of Hurricane Ida in New Orleans, Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

BATON ROUGE — Louisiana Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon has begun airing a radio message in the areas affected by Hurricane Ida advising policyholders of their right to recover food, lodging and other expenses resulting from their evacuation. 

On Sept. 7, Commissioner Donelon issued Directive 218, which requires insurers to pay claims for loss of use to policyholders who evacuated or were prohibited from using their premises because of the storm.

“I have instructed insurers to pay evacuation expenses including food and lodging,” said Donelon in the radio spot. “There were enough advance warnings from elected officials to justify your decision to evacuate. Getting out of danger’s way was the right decision, and now our insurance companies must live up to their agreement to cover your evacuation expenses.”

Donelon’s mandate for insurers to provide coverage applies to policies in the 25 parishes listed in Emergency Rule 47, a measure issued previously to protect policyholders from cancellations and non-renewals after Hurricane Ida. President Joe Biden also urged insurance companies to pay people’s evacuation expenses during his visit to St. John the Baptist Parish. The commissioner urged policyholders to retain all receipts for any expenses they incurred due to the hurricane.

“Most homeowners have policies that include coverage for loss of use,” said Donelon. “That clause generally covers extra expenses for up to two weeks when an evacuation order prohibits policyholders from living in their homes. The coverage pays the expenses beyond a policyholder’s normal expenses for housing and food, such as the cost of a hotel room and reasonable restaurant meals when someone is unable to cook.”

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