NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed a bill Tuesday that would end the so-called Patriot Penalty where members of the military who are deployed are charged for a lapse in coverage after they return from deployment. The penalty was the focus of an investigation by FOX 8 News and Investigate TV into the practice in several states across the country.
State Senator Jay Luneau, D-Alexandria, filed the bill, SB 16, before the legislative session began and said he was surprised to learn of the penalty against those who are serving the country.
“It is especially offensive to me that these people are penalized after they come back,” State Senator Jay Luneau, of Alexandria, said. “It’s also offensive to me that some insurance companies are kind of duping people when they come back by telling the people you get a discount because you’re a service member but that’s after they’ve already raised the rates based on them not having insurance for the last six months."
InvestigateTV’s analysis of the Patriot Penalty found the practice being applied in 22 states across the country.
After signing the bill, Governor Edwards released a statement saying the bill passed with little disagreement.
“I am proud to have signed this bill, which effectively ends the so-called Patriot Penalty and guarantees that our military heroes are not charged higher auto insurance rates,” Edwards said. “I appreciate Senator Luneau for bringing forward this solution, and for the entire Louisiana Legislature for supporting the members of our military.”
“Auto insurance rates are too high in Louisiana and right now auto insurance companies can still legally increase rates based on a person’s gender, credit score and marital status. While these injustices remain, I am happy that we have at least crossed another – being deployed – off of the list.”
Sen. Luneau filed other bills addressing companies basing rates off of a person’s gender, credit score and whether or not the person is a widow, those bills were all left pending in the Senate Insurance Committee.
The bill regarding the elimination of the Patriot Penalty received unanimous support from both the Louisiana House and Senate. With the Governor’s signature, it is now known as Act 49 and is scheduled to become effective August 1, 2020.