As insurance costs skyrocket, locals brace for impact

As John Landry began a phone conversation with his insurance agent, he was asked if he was sitting down.

“I said no, but I can,” Landry said.

Standing or sitting, the news was downright flooring. The home insurance on Landry’s Gassen Street house in Luling was tripling in cost, the kind of rate hike that’s becoming too familiar for a number of local residents in the wake of Hurricane Ida.

That cost, Landry said, does not include flood insurance.

“I thought it would probably go up, yeah. (The insurance companies) took a beating with the storm,” Landry said. “I expected it to go, maybe 30 percent, 40 percent. Even 50. Did I think it would triple? Not at all.

“I made a claim, but it wasn’t really much of anything, just my roof.”

Landry lives in Metairie and rents out the property in Luling. He said this won’t break him – “I’m still going to be able to eat and put gas in my car” – but that this still jarring blow is going to be all the more difficult for many.

“I feel sorry for these young people, because in a lot of cases, you’re starting out and you’re at the max of what you can budget already,” Landry said. “And they need to start looking at this now. They need to know to prepare, and not to wait until your insurance comes up … if you wait until it’s due and the mortgage company has to pay it, there’s not much time to shop around.

“If you haven’t gotten that insurance bill yet, make sure you’re prepared for it.”

That said, shopping around in itself offers limited options.

“From what I understand, a lot of companies have pulled out of the state … not many companies are even writing insurance, and the ones who do, those are going up,” Landry said.

Tommy Phillips of Boutte was proactive earlier this year – he went to speak with his agent after hearing about potential upcoming changes to the nation’s flood insurance plan. He asked his insurance provider for a hypothetical quote on his property if it were brand new.

The answer was $8,100 annually, up from the $567 he pays currently. That increase is over 1,300 percent, despite his home never having flooded.

Phillips’ story was cited as part of a presentation in Washington, D.C. by St. Charles Parish President Matt Jewell and Congressman Garret Graves on the damage such rates will wreak on homeowners. The changes are result of the remaking of the National Flood Insurance Program, aka Risk Rating 2.0. Rate increases are expected to be phased in over several years, as federal rules for existing flood insurance policyholders are capped at increases of no more than 18 percent per year.

“At the moment I am going to sit tight try to raise awareness to the situation hoping for the best that they actually don’t go up on the flood rates as much as they say,” Phillips said. “I love St. Charles Parish and the community that I live in … I just can’t see myself anywhere else but here. At the very worst I will try to pay my mortgage off in some way or another where I’m not required to have flood insurance.”

“It’s around a 42 percent increase. They told me it was only around a 17 percent actual increase, with the rest of it coming down to fees and things like that. I’m just looking at the bottom line, and we’re paying 42 percent more,” William said. “And then they’re telling us it’s eventually going to go to $6,950. We’re investigating private insurance … if it’s cheaper,  we don’t know. We’ve never had to go that route before … we’re going to pay it out of pocket for now, because we have to have it.”

For Landry, the flood insurance hasn’t yet factored into his number.

“Where does it stop?” Landry asked. “I don’t even know what flood insurance is going to be. And when you have a mortgage, you have to carry insurance. You don’t have a choice.”

 

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