Consumers should have up to two years to file lawsuits against their insurance companies after a disaster declared by the governor, instead of the maximum one year now in effect, a Louisiana House of Representatives committee recently decided.
Rep. Tim Burns, R-Mandeville, said House Bill 666 would apply to litigation following future disaster declarations and would not affect policyholders who want to challenge payments or claims paid in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. But Burns said he is exploring ways to make the bill apply to last year’s hurricane victims.
Burns said that insurance companies “are so overwhelmed now, they will not be able to process all the claims by Aug. 29, 2006,” a year after the date Katrina battered the state. “It is in everybody’s interest to extend it to two years,” he said.
Kevin Cunningham, a lobbyist for the American Insurance Association, a trade organization of about 450 insurers, said the industry wants to restrict the bill so it does not apply to virtually every policy in the state and to get a better definition of a declared disaster.
The bill goes next to the House for debate.
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