Victor of Insurance Commissioner Election Decided After Candidate Withdraws
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Tim Temple, a Baton Rouge Republican who spent 20 years in the insurance industry, will be Louisiana’s next insurance commissioner after the only other candidate dropped out of the race Wednesday.
The statewide position was been thrust into the spotlight as the Louisiana struggles with an ongoing homeowner insurance crisis exacerbated by a series of destructive hurricanes in 2020 and 2021. Temple will be was tasked with finding solutions to lower skyrocketing property insurance costs — that, in some cases, have become unaffordable for Louisiana residents.
“We have an enormous amount of work to do for the people of this state and I’m ready to get going. Together, we will tackle Louisiana’s insurance crisis head-on. Better days are ahead,” Temple posted on Facebook Wednesday afternoon.
The position has been held by Jim Donelon for a record 17 years. But the 78-year-old Republican announced in March that he would not seek reelection, wanting “to enjoy the remaining years of my life with my family and hopefully some new hobbies.”
The only other candidate who signed up for the Oct. 14 election was Rich Weaver, a Democrat from Ascension Parish. However, Weaver officially withdrew his bid Wednesday, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s website. Weaver could not immediately be reached for comment.
The insurance crisis has been at the forefront of conversations among lawmakers and the state’s gubernatorial candidates this year.
Over the past few years, a dozen homeowners insurance companies fled the state and another dozen went insolvent following hurricanes Delta, Laura, Zeta and Ida. The storms’ destruction generated a combined 800,000 insurance claims totaling $22 billion.
As a result, thousands of residents have been forced to turn to Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation — the state-run insurer, which is the most expensive option. Currently the corporation has 120,000 residential policies — compared to 41,000 policies in 2021 — and the average annual property insurance premium has soared to $4,400. Nationally, the average annual premium for property insurance in 2019 was $1,272, according to the most recent data from the Insurance Information Institute.
In February, during a special session to address insurance woes, lawmakers approved of allocating $45 million to an incentive program designed to entice more insurers to Louisiana.
By AP reporter Sara Cline