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Temple says insurance in state of crisis


Tim Temple, who earlier this year announced his candidacy for Louisiana commissioner of insurance, will run against incumbent Jim Donelon to try to fix what he considers a state crisis. "Louisiana's in an insurance crisis. People are paying exorbitant premiums for their insurance to the point where it's unaffordable for most Louisianans," he said during a campaign stop in Hammond last week. "We need somebody with some serious credentials to go in there and work to fix it." Temple's credentials include experience as an insurance agent, head of workers compensation programs, executive manager of a commercial trucking company, CEO of a claims third-party administrator and reinsurance broker. As CEO of the claims agency, he was involved with disaster recovery after the BP oil spill and Hurricane Sandy's damage in New York and New Jersey. Experience as a reinsurance broker, someone who negotiates treaties between insurance companies and the reinsurance market, afforded him international experience. "I've worn a lot of different hats. I've seen a lot of different sides of the business, and I think I've got a very unique perspective as the hopeful next commissioner of insurance," he said. "I've never held an elected office before, but I don't think that should be a deterrent for anyone to run for office." His campaign is self-funded, and he considers himself a political outsider. He said the average Louisianan family pays 18.2 percent of their income on insurance and the state has the overall most expensive insurance in the U.S. "Insurance costs us more than people in New York which just boggles the mind," he said. He attributes the Louisiana Department of Insurance has gotten away from being a resource for the industry and the department needs to work with insurance companies to know what they look for in tort reforms. He pointed to the "F" rating Louisiana received in 2018 on its R Street report, which rates a state's insurance regulation, as another deterrent for competitive industry. Bringing the heads of insurance companies to the table to discuss Louisiana's insurance industry is a key part of Temple's platform. He believes his experience in knowing who to pitch to would benefit the state's attractiveness for insurance competition. He hopes to apply that same level of engagement to issues with flood insurance. Although flood insurance is handled by a congressional delegation, he feels the commissioner should be more active in working with the delegation. Temple feels that Donelon, who has been in office for more than 12 years, should be more active in flood insurance delegation and in involving insurance companies in the department's decisions. "Because the current commissioner is not doing his job, we've got some failed leadership there. Because of that, it's just a culmination; thing just keep piling on," Temple said. "People continue to pay higher and higher insurance premiums." "He's been there long enough. He's done good. It's time for him to retire," he added. Like the secretary of Louisiana Economic Development, the insurance commissioner should be a salesperson for the state for all insurance-related matters, he said. "The best way to get new companies back writing in our state – you have to ask. You have to find out why they weren't doing it. Let's be one of the ones that are out there actively soliciting business," he said.