Senate passes tort reform on veto proof 29-8 vote

WWL Newsroom
May 19, 2020 - 9:45 am

The Omnibus Tort Reform bill clears the Senate on a veto-proof 29-8 vote.

The legislation lowers the jury trial threshold and includes other lawsuit reforms. Author River Ridge Senator Kirk Talbot says these changes will save auto insurers money and requires they pass on a minimum of ten percent savings to customers.

“The Commissioner (Jim Donelon) assured me that they have all the information that they by law can see by the insurance companies to determine whether those costs have gone down and that they will lower their rates accordingly,” says Talbot.

Talbot says Louisiana has some of the highest auto insurance rates in the country and these changes put Louisiana in line with other state’s tort policy. He says that will draw new insurers to the state.

“Competition always favors the consumer because prices will go down,” says Talbot.

Tort reform was a major priority of the GOP headed into the session. Many freshman members made supporting tort reform a central message of their campaigns.

Alexandria Senator Jay Luneau took issue with the bill. He says it has been written with loopholes that allow insurers to skip out on passing along tort related savings. He read from the bill…

“It says this section does not prohibit an increase for any individual insurance policy premium if the increase results from an increase in the risk of loss,” says Luneau. “In other words, they can still raise rates.”

In committee, opponents testified that passage of the bill would lead to lower settlements for victims of corporate or personal negligence.

Luneau also targeted the legislation for undermining critical funding sources for local courts and says it fails to address the real reasons behind rising auto insurance rates.

“This bill has some good things in it and it has some really bad things in it and it has some unintended consequences that are going to be costly to all of us,” says Luneau.

The legislation is pending House introduction.

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