Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon handed out grants Jan. 11 to property insurance companies that are receiving a total of $29 million from a state government program aimed at getting more insurers to write policies in south Louisiana.
The incentive program, approved by the Legislature in 2007, offers matching money to insurers who agree to take over policies now written by the state-backed Louisiana Citizens Insurance Corp.
Supporters of the program say it can lower property insurance rates by luring more companies to Louisiana and increasing competition.
“These companies will spur competition and improve the availability and affordability of property insurance in this state,” Blanco said.
Lawmakers set aside $100 million for the program. Donelon’s office will accept a second round of applications, starting Feb. 4 for the remaining $71 million. Donelon has said he doesn’t expect enough companies to apply to use all the money, however.
Only established firms, with a net worth of $25 million or more, are eligible. Donelon’s office will determine whether applicants qualify and how large their grants should be. The Legislature’s joint budget committee must approve all grant payments.
The applicants that received grants and the dollar value of their grants are:
-Occidental Fire & Casualty of North Carolina, of Raleigh, $10 million.
-Southern Fidelity, of Tallahassee, Fla., $7 million.
-ASI Lloyds, of St. Petersburg, Fla., $5 million.
-Imperial Fire & Casualty, of Opelousas, $5 million.
-Companion Property & Casualty Insurance, of Columbia, S.C., $2 million.
Southern Fidelity and ASI are new to the Louisiana market.
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