The two candidates in the Insurance Commissioner’s race were face to face in a debate at Baton Rouge Press Club. One of the major focal points of discussion was on Louisiana’s auto insurance rates. Challenger Tim Temple touts 20-plus years of industry knowledge and says the state is facing an insurance crisis as the most unaffordable state for insurance.

“Our private passenger auto rates are the second-highest in the country and forecast to be number one next year.  Commercial auto, specifically commercial trucking, is in a true catastrophe mode,” said Temple.

Incumbent Commissioner Jim Donelon blames a broken legal system and limits need to be put in place on damages awarded against insurance companies.

“I’ve been working with our legislative partners to fix our broken legal system.  I’m confident that we’ll be successful in that effort when the new legislature is seated next year,” said Donelon.

Temple says Donelon has had 14 years as commissioner to pass tort reform and lower rates and he’s failed. Donelon says the tide is turning as three auto insurance providers have recently announced lower premiums.

And Donelon says during his 13 years in office, he has contributed to the influx of new coverage providers following Hurricane Katrina.

“We far exceeded our fondest expectations of attracting now 31 companies to replace the exiting major national carriers who bailed out of coastal exposure all across America,” said Donelon.

Temple says it is competition that drives rates, not legislative mandates.

“My focus is going to be competition.  Working with companies, identifying what needs to change in state, whether it is state law or regulations, to make them competitive in the state of Louisiana so they want to come and write your business,” said Temple.

The election is October 12th.