Gulf of Mexico
Cayla Zeek and 30,000 other former UPC policyholders in Louisiana have until the end of March to find new coverage for their homes. Photo by Travis Gauthier

LA - Insurance crisis could hasten Louisiana’s young talent exodus

When Natalie Briggs bought her first house in the summer of 2021, she made it a priority to keep costs low. Briggs, 32, hunted down a deal in Lafayette’s Saint Streets neighborhood and locked in a low interest rate, aiming to keep her monthly mortgage on par with her previous rent payments.

ut within a year of closing on her home, Briggs lost her homeowners insurance policy when Florida-based Weston Property & Casualty Insurance Company folded last summer, impacting more than 10,000 Louisiana policyholders.

Finding a new policy caused her premiums to double, from $1,100 to more than $2,200 a year, sticking her with a surprise bill of about $1,000 from her escrow account in December.

It’s a similar story for Cayla Zeek, a self-employed artist searching for a new policy to insure her home in the LaPlace neighborhood following the collapse of United Property & Casualty Insurance Company, also based in Florida, in recent weeks.

UPC announced plans to withdraw from Louisiana in December, leaving its policies to expire on their existing schedules in 2023. But the company was placed into liquidation by the state of Florida Thursday, giving Zeek and 30,000 other UPC policyholders in Louisiana roughly until the end of March to find new coverage for their homes.

Zeek didn’t find out her UPC policy wouldn’t be renewed until an escrow issue over a previous premium increase caused her monthly mortgage payments to jump $100 last month.

“I was definitely freaking out at first,” Zeek says. Spurred by that pressure, she hired a broker and set out to call companies herself for quotes. But her first call was a surprising let down.

“The first one I called was Progressive, since that’s what I have my car insurance with,” she says. “They asked me like a million questions. I answered them all. And it’s not until I get to the end of this interview that they’re like, ‘Oh, we don’t cover in your zip code.’”

So far, Zeek has only landed a pair of quotes, one for $2,100 a year and the other for $3,100.

“I know that’s probably relatively good, but I was like, ‘Oh, this is a jump from the $1,400 that I was paying.’ This is bumping up quite a bit.”

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