ISSUE FOCUS

HIGH COST OF AUTO INSURANCE

The number of accidents in Louisiana is slightly higher than the national average and the number of general accident claims is in line with the national average. Bodily injury claims, however, are nearly twice the national average. (Source: Property Casualty Insurers of America)
 

The Civil Justice Reform Act of 2020 was passed, and reforms became effective in January 2021. It will take time to determine the extent of their effectiveness, and more work remains to be done to improve Louisiana’s climate of lawsuit abuse.

Insure.com found that Louisiana drivers pay the second highest rates in the nation for auto insurance premiums:
 

  • For the fourth year in a row, Louisiana has the second-highest auto insurance in the country, averaging $2,389 – 57 percent higher than the 2020 national car insurance average and 4 percent more than its 2019 rates.

  • Among other factors for higher rates, Louisiana residents are considered to be some of the most litigious in the nation.

  • Louisiana has a direct-action law that allows residents to sue insurers directly. Lawsuits of this kind drive up the cost of insurance for everyone in the Pelican State.

  • Until lawmakers figure out a way to change this broken system, auto insurance rates will likely continue to stay among the highest in the nation.

  • Not only does Louisiana have a high percentage of uninsured drivers (13 percent) but 40 percent of those that are insured only carry state minimum coverage levels. 

  • Since the majority of drivers are uninsured or underinsured, many turn to the court system to get larger payouts when an accident occurs. To compensate for this onslaught of lawsuits, Louisianans are forced to pay higher premiums.

 

From the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, 2020:
 

  • Phantom Damages (Collateral Source Rule): When judges and juries decide how much should be paid in lawsuit damages, that decision should be based on what was actually paid for medical expenses, instead of artificially inflated phantom costs.

  • Jury Trial Threshold: Louisiana denies access to a jury trial until damages reach at least $50,000. This jury threshold is the highest in the country – three times more than the next highest state (Maryland has a threshold at $15,000). There are 36 states with no threshold at all.

  • Direct Action: Louisiana is one of only three states where a plaintiff can sue you AND your insurance company. It also permits the presentation of evidence of liability insurance to the jury.

  • Seat Belt Gag Rule: Although seat belts are required by Louisiana law and they help prevent injuries, it is illegal to tell a jury whether seat belts are being used at the time of a crash. Nearly 87 percent of drivers in Louisiana use seat belts. They save lives, and according to National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), are the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash.