BATON ROUGE, La. -- Louisiana's property insurer of last resort is trying to negotiate settlements on two remaining class action lawsuits tied to the company's handling of claims after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The board for the Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp. voted Thursday to authorize groups of settlement negotiators to work on agreements.
"The board really would like to get these cases resolved and move forward," said Citizens CEO Richard Robertson.
Any proposals would have to come back to the board at its September meeting for approval.
No parameters were given on how much money could be offered, and Robertson said he couldn't estimate how much settlements might cost the firm. Most of the talk about the ongoing lawsuits was held in a closed-door meeting that lasted more than an hour.
Policyholders sued over slow dealing with claims after the hurricanes struck in 2005. Robertson said one lawsuit involves about 12,000 to 14,000 policyholders, while the other is nearly 26,000 claimants.
The move to settle two outstanding lawsuits comes after Citizens paid a $104 million judgment in July that will benefit more than 18,500 policyholders who sued over slow adjustment of claims after the hurricanes.
Asked whether Citizens has enough money on hand to pay for the two settlements being negotiated, Robertson replied, "Depends on how much they are."
When Citizens money used to pay claims gets low, the company assesses private insurers for each property policy, and that cost is passed on to private insurance customers.