Bill to lower Louisiana auto insurance rates advances to the house floor

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(WVUE) - If Randy Guillot’s trucking company were located a few hundred miles anywhere else, he’d be saving a lot of money on insurance.

“Go to Mississippi, better than what it is here in Louisiana. Go to Texas, it’s better; Arkansas, it’s better. Louisiana has some bad numbers,” Guillot said.

Bad numbers, he said, is an understatement. Louisiana ranks No. 1 when it comes to the most expensive auto rates in the country, and it’s costing him.

“We’re sitting at 240 percent above national average our cost of insurance,” said Guillot.

Guillot insures a fleet of nearly 100 trucks. It costs him nearly $2 million more in insurance costs. With soaring costs and growing difficulty in securing insurance quotes, Guillot challenged his local lawmaker. Representative Kirk Talbot of River Ridge brought his bill before the Civil Law and Procedure Committee today, and the debate lasted nearly two-and-a-half hours.

“We are reaching critical mass here. We have taken an entire demographic of people in this state, low income, that’s shut them out of the insurance community,” Talbot said.

The bill essentially looks to overhaul state law, making it more appealing for insurance companies to offer more affordable coverage, and in the case of some insurance companies, offer coverage at all.

"'Nationwide is on our side.' You’ve heard that jingle a thousand times. Our homegrown Peyton Manning is on that commercial. Well, guess what? There are three states they will not write in: Hawaii, Alaska and Louisiana. Why won’t you write here? Your legal climate. Call me when the legal climate changes,” said Talbot.

But the bill didn’t come without some criticism. Representative Sam Jenkins believed the bill was too lenient with the insurance companies themselves.

“More directives to insurance companies and their best practices - things they’re not doing as well as they should be doing to drive down premiums,” said Jenkins.

However, many other representatives praised Talbot, saying reforms are desperately needed.

The bill will now advance to the House floor with a 5-2 vote. And Guillot says he doesn’t expect to save any on insurance anytime soon but says this is a small step to hopefully bigger changes.

“This bill is certainly a good one, but it’s not going to fix everything we got. But if we get it passed, it’s in the right direction,” said Guillot.

Lawmakers made several references to how this isn’t a new problem. They’re aware of the challenge the bill faces as there have been previous bills presented in the past.