Ledet Insurance
The Ledet History

Our History - “Father and Son Continue Family Insurance Tradition”

While working as a teller at Terrebonne Bank during the turn of the century, Charles A. Ledet realized the growing insurance needs of the residents of Terrebonne Parish and established Ledet Insurance in 1910. Now, 87 years and two generations later, the agency, located at 209 Goode St. next to the courthouse, continues to insure the future of local citizens. Leo Ledet Sr., now 83 and self-described semi-retired, recalled his father's business foresight. "He realized the growth that Houma was experiencing and knew that people needed to borrow money to begin businesses and develop commercial industries," Leo Ledet Sr. said. The elder Ledet continued to work at the bank and began to advise bank President Ernest Ellender. He was eventually elected bank president in 1929 when Ellender passes away. Unfortunately, his career as a bank president was a short one, as he died two years later.

Leo Ledet Sr., who attended Notre Dame, Loyola and Louisiana State universities, took over the agency from his father in 1936 after deciding to quit college just one semester before graduation. Having been aroung the agency for most of its existence, he remembered the different locations. "The original agency began at 307 East Main Street and then moved to the Thatcher building, which is currently the Terrebonne Parish governmnet building," Leo Ledet Sr. said. "We then moved to the present location." The present building was build by the Ledet family in 1961 after demolishing the previous office. He recalled the changes and the differences in the insurance business since his entrance 61 years ago. "It was a very small affair in this part of the country because of our constant difficulty with hurricanes," Leo Ledet Sr. said.

His son, Leo Ledet Jr., who affiliated with the office in 1976, said the major changes in the Terrebonne Parish area for property owners came with the establishment of the Coastal and Fair plans by the state and federal government. "These plans allowed for people in the coastal areas to buy insurance," Ledet Jr. said. "The Fair Plan was for anybody within the city limits and the Coastal Plan was designed for those living south of the Intracoastal. This allowed for anybody to buy property insurance for their homes, businesses and their stock and inventory."

"The area became more litigious because of the oil industry," he said. "A lot of accidents happened, and that drew a lot of attorneys to practice in the area and to look at those accidents to see which ones needed to be acted upon." Leo Ledet Jr. added that areas south of I-10 became known as a high-risk because of the influx of people moving in and the increase in accidents that occurred. Another reason was property liability because of coastal exposure. Leo Ledet Sr. added that those industrial accidents proved to be riskier and more costly because many happened in federal waters. "The federal government is much more lenient in the settlement of claims than the state of Louisiana," Ledet Sr. said. "And more and more development began outside of the state, past the three-mile limit in the Gulf of Mexico." Leo Ledet Sr. agreed that some of the industrial claims that have been awarded are much too large, but his son added that in some cases, it does help the business of insurance sales. "From a sales standpoint, it has helped many insurance agencies," Leo Ledet Jr. said. "There are more lawsuits that involve property and business owners, and they make more of an effort to protect themselves from liability. So it's kind of a one hand washes the other in that respect. But, I hate to see some of the crazy claims."

Because the local economy is connected so tightly to the oil industry, Ledet Insurance, like all businesses, had to deal with the depression that accompanied the industry's decline in the mid-to-late 1980s. However, through smart business tactics and a streamlined operation, the agency survived. "My father always taught me about accounts receivable," leo Ledet Jr. said. "He would always say 'You don't make any money until you collect money.' So we were not hurt badly like some companies were, with a big loss of money due to accounts receivable." Leo Ledet Jr. said he began looking around to find out who was left in the area. What he found was a dependable source of business. "One of the things that was still here and will always be here is government," Ledet Jr. said. "We started to write a few more types of risk on the government side."

Ledet Insurance now writes the policies for all the volunteer and Houma fire departments in the area, along with the Houma power plant. The agency also turned to the established private sector in the area. "These risks were going to be here and could pay," Ledet said. Now that the economy is "booming" and new construction is increasing on a daily basis, both father and son look forward to good times ahead. "I have talked to people who are very knowledgeable in the oil industry, and they have told me that we have at least five good years ahead of us," Leo Ledet Sr. said.

"We are trying to fine tune our agency and get set up for the growth that Houma will be going through," Leo Ledet Jr. said. The agency has implemented a new computer system and is trying to develop diversified insurance markets. The agency has six employees, who included customer service representatives Brenda Strada, Gail Vauclin, Diane Malbrough, and accountant Jewel Marie. Other employees include receptionist Pat Allen and Frances French. Among others, Ledet Insurance is affiliated with American International Group and Lafayette Insurance Company.

The Courier - Houma, Louisiana, by Matt Gresham
October 19, 1997

Ledet Insurance