Grants to fortify roofs might become obtainable before the end of fall
In the midst of an ongoing insurance crisis, Louisiana’s insurance commissioner, Jim Donelon, announced that state lawmakers have officially passed legislation that will provide assistance to homeowners.
Among the bills approved by the legislature is the funding for the La. Fortify Homes Program.
Donelon emphasized the significance of the Fortify program, stating, “This program will enable us to construct homes capable of withstanding winds of up to 150 miles per hour.”
The program will offer grants to eligible homeowners, helping them reinforce their roofs to better withstand hurricanes. Rep. Mike Huval, the chairman of the House Insurance Committee, explained that while homeowners need to meet specific eligibility criteria and cover expenses such as permits and inspections, the grants will contribute up to $10,000 toward the overall cost of roof replacement to meet fortified standards.
Although the program was established by legislators in 2022, it was only recently funded. During the legislative session that concluded last week, the House and Senate approved $30 million for the program.
Citizens will have the opportunity to apply for the grants in the upcoming fall season. Donelon stated, “The first offering to interested citizens will go live on October 1.”
Additionally, bills were passed to require insurance companies to offer discounts to homeowners who reinforce their roofs. The legislation was also sent to the governor for signing, which removes obstacles for homeowners seeking to hire a public adjuster.
Sen. Kirk Talbot, the chair of the Senate Insurance Committee, emphasized the importance of one of these bills, stating, “This is a very crucial bill. Currently, some insurance companies can prevent their policyholders from hiring a public adjuster. This bill grants homeowners the right to hire a public adjuster if they believe their claims were not treated fairly.”
However, despite the financial incentives available to insurers from the state, Donelon acknowledged that some companies are still unwilling to provide coverage for historic homes and houses with lead paint.
“They choose not to take on that risk because it’s a greater risk,” explained Donelon. “This is a common complaint we hear from Orleans Parish, where companies are hesitant, unwilling, or pricing themselves out of competition due to that risk. I lack the authority to mandate insurers to cover lead-painted or historic homes.”
Donelon stressed that only the legislature has the power to amend the law and require insurers to offer coverage for such properties.
Furthermore, Donelon expects insurance companies that have received state grants but have reached their policy limits in Orleans, Jefferson, and St. Tammany Parishes to resume writing coverage in the near future.
“It will take a few weeks,” Donelon stated. “For the three parishes where some incentive companies have reached their capacity, I have the authority, as per the bill, to grant waivers that allow these companies to write coverage beyond the 15% exposure limit in any single parish.”
Donelon also advised homeowners paying high premiums to regularly shop around for alternative options.
“I encourage anyone seeking a new policy to shop around at least once a month until you find coverage, especially if you are facing a 63% rate increase imposed by Citizens,” Donelon urged.