Pelican Institute's Baehr supports new auto insurance bill

By Carrie Bradon | May 3, 2019

While Louisiana is known for being one of the most expensive states in which to own a car, the result of inflated insurance rates due to large settlements from even minor accidents, there is a new bill seeking to bring those rates back down to earth. 

According to TheAdvocate, House Bill 372 would limit lawsuits from car accidents, thus leading to lower auto insurance rates. Supporters of the bill hope to lower insurance rates by introducing requirements such as a detailed review of costs by the insurers and allowing plaintiffs more time to file lawsuits. 

Insurance premiums would therefore decrease as the insurers' costs decrease, and giving the plaintiffs longer to file would allow negotiations to be carried out over a longer period of time, thus decreasing the amount of lawsuits in favor of settlements. James Baehr, general counsel for the Pelican Institute for Public Policy, commented on the bill and why it might help to improve the situation of lawsuit abuse in Louisiana.

“Litigation abuse is stifling opportunities for all Louisianans," Baehr told Louisiana Record. "It is long past time Louisiana takes steps to address the huge payouts available to personal injury attorneys due, in part, to our state's extremely high jury trial threshold.”

In fact, the threshold is so high that it keeps many worthy cases from ever seeing the inside of a courtroom, making justice disproportionate based on financial status of plaintiffs. 

“Louisiana's threshold is more than double any other state in the nation and, meanwhile, working families throughout the state pay some of the highest car insurance rates in the country,” Baehr said. 

While HB372 cannot be expected to solve all of Louisiana's auto insurance woes, it may be one of the components needed to improve the situation. 

“This legislation is an encouraging step in the right direction,” Baehr said.

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