September 20, 2021…?

SACRAMENTO — Marc Levine, a five-term Assembly member from Marin County, will run for state insurance commissioner next year, challenging incumbent Ricardo Lara, a fellow Democrat whom Levine says has not taken bold enough steps to stabilize a home insurance marketplace increasingly strained by California’s worsening wildfires.

The elected insurance commissioner, a position created by California voters in 1988, oversees the state Department of Insurance, which licenses and regulates the industry.

“This can’t be a backwater job at a time when this is the one position that has the ability to affect the most Californians,” Levine said in an interview Monday. “We’ve got so much work to do right now that’s not getting done because the current insurance commissioner has conflicted himself out of a job.”

With California now annually confronting record-breaking wildfire seasons, hundreds of thousands of homeowners each year are getting dropped by their insurance companies. Mainstream insurers argue they can no longer afford to cover some high-risk areas because premiums are too low, forcing homeowners to turn to expensive plans not regulated by the state or a limited state-backed policy of last resort.