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Louisiana’s new Insurance Commissioner Tim Temple plans to fast-track reforms

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Louisiana’s new Insurance Commissioner Tim Temple plans to fast-track reforms | Insurance Business America















Expect “significant differences”, Temple says as he lays out priorities

Louisiana's new Insurance Commissioner Tim Temple plans to fast-track reforms

Louisiana’s new Insurance Commissioner Tim Temple plans to fast-track proposed reforms to tackle the state’s insurance crisis and has told insurance companies and policyholders to expect “significant differences” as he takes up the mantle from Jim Donelon.

Temple (pictured), who was sworn into office on January 8, has called for a special session in early 2024 to push changes to property insurance laws but said congressional redistricting issues took precedence at Louisiana’s legislature this month.

Proposals will be heard in the regular session, which starts March 11.

“We’re focused on creating a roadmap of solutions by engaging with insurance companies, consumer advocacy groups, state lawmakers, agents, and policyholders to identify the fundamental problems and lay out regulatory changes that need to be made,” said Temple.

“Because of the timing and inability to push for a special session, we’re going to ask the legislature to fast-track these solutions that we come up with, with the intent of getting them to the governor’s desk as soon as possible.”

‘Roadmap of solutions’ to alleviate Lousiana’s insurance woes

Temple is focused on making the state an attractive market for insurers, enticing more competitors to bring in more options and, hopefully, affordability for consumers.

Speaking to Insurance Business, he said he has “hit the ground running” a little over a week since his inauguration.

“Everybody that I speak to in this industry that’s been in it for any number of years – and I’m talking to some folks that have been at it for 40, 50 years – all agree this is the worst insurance environment that they have ever experienced,” Temple said.

“What that translates to at the consumer level is unavailability, and even if insurance is available, it’s certainly approaching or exceeding the affordability threshold for many individuals, families, and businesses.”

Steep losses from hurricane seasons in 2020 and 2021 have contributed to a mass exit of insurers in Louisiana. Less competition and rising costs due to inflation have driven up insurance prices for consumers.

“My priority is to make Louisiana more desirable for insurance companies by creating an attractive market they want to come and do business in,” Temple said.

What can Louisiana expect from its new Insurance Commissioner Tim Temple?

Changes are ahead for the Louisiana Department of Insurance (LDI). Temple said his policy priorities diverge from those of his predecessor, Donelon, in a few ways.

One is that Temple opposes the insurer incentive program that came out of last year’s special session. The program offered insurance companies taxpayer funds to write more policies in the state. Temple said he would not be asking for more funding for the program moving forward.

Temple does support the Fortify Homes program, which grants up to $10,000 for homeowners to upgrade their roofs to standards set by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. He said the LDI is looking into different funding mechanisms to make the program more permanent.

“The current programme is designed so that we have to go before the legislature every year to ask for funding,” Temple said.

“I am looking at a couple of different ways to create a steady funding source so the industry sees that this is a long-term programme and won’t be subject to budgetary restraints that occur from year to year.”

Another priority for Temple is raising the standard of review for insurance companies regarding their financial solvency and reinsurance programs. The commissioner said that new entrants who want to write in highly exposed areas must demonstrate that they have “more than adequate” reinsurance in place should catastrophic events occur.

“I certainly want to work with the industry to create that competitive marketplace, but I also want to hold them accountable,” Temple said. “Policyholders and insurance companies can expect significant differences moving forward.”

Temple also addressed the false binary that often comes with regulatory reforms.

“Often, when you hear people talking about changes to the regulatory environment that might be in favour of the industry, they think that it’s binary, which means if it’s good for the industry, then it must be bad for the consumer, or if something is good for the consumer, then it must be bad for the industry,” he said. “I don’t believe in that. I think there is a balance.”

Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Tim Temple on a ‘collaborative approach’ to regulation

A native of DeRidder, Temple has worked for over two decades in the insurance industry, serving as president of Temptan, a family-owned investment management business in Baton Rouge.

He won the election for the state’s top insurance official in October after his opponent dropped out of the primary. Temple replaces Jim Donelon, who served as Insurance Commissioner for 17 years.

Temple told Insurance Business that the seed of his intent to run for commissioner was planted in 2017 when Donelan announced he would not seek a fifth term.

“I’m at an age and stage of my life where I felt I had the time, energy, and experience to do some public service, and insurance has been my life; it’s been my background,” Temple said.

“We’ve never had an Insurance Commissioner with relevant experience in the insurance industry. So, I hope to bring my understanding of the complexities of insurance to this office because I think we can positively impact the lives of every individual, family, and business in our state.”

As he geared up for the hard work and discussions over the next few months, Temple emphasized he would take a “collaborative, engaged” approach with stakeholders.

“I want to hear from the industry to make this state one where companies can thrive but at the same time, deliver a product that consumers can afford,” he said.

“I want to have those conversations; I want to pay attention to the things that are important to the industry, to make it more attractive while, at the same time, protecting the consumer from the bad actors out there.”

What do you think about Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Tim Temple’s plans for the state? Please share your comments below.

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