Ricardo Lara’s first term was marked by violations of key campaign pledge, other allegations
By Jeff McDonald, SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE
October 9, 2022
By Dave LaChance, REPAIRER DRIVEN NEWS
October 7, 2022
Maintaining that auto insurers still owe rebates to California drivers who were overcharged during the stay-at-home period of the pandemic, the state’s insurance commissioner has ordered 47 carriers to provide detailed information about their claim costs during that time.
By Melody Gutierrez, LOS ANGELES TIMES
October 3, 2022
SACRAMENTO — California voters will decide this November who will lead a state agency that wields significant power over home, auto and other insurance policies, selecting between an incumbent Democrat embroiled in controversy and his novice Republican challenger.
By Don Thompson, ASSOCIATED PRESS
September 26, 2022
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Top U.S. insurance companies and associations say California is risking a crisis in the nation’s largest automobile insurance market by refusing to approve any rate increases for more than two years, since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
By Dave LaChance, REPAIRER DRIVEN NEWS
September 23, 2022
Consumer protection organization Consumer Watchdog is urging California’s insurance commissioner to protect the state’s residents against the misuse of computer algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) by insurers.
Editorial by SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA NEWS GROUP EDITORIAL BOARD
September 21, 2022
Our editorial board interviews candidates for public office with the goal of helping voters gain the greatest possible understanding of the offices, the issues and the options before them.
By Michael Finney & Randall Yip, KGO ABC TV-7 San Francisco, CA
September 9, 2022
SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (KGO) -- Homeowners in California who live in a high-risk fire zones could find it easier to get their home policies renewed. That's if new state regulations work as intended. Not everyone is convinced it will work.
Los Angeles, CA – California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara today submitted a long-awaited regulation for final approval that will require insurance companies to provide premium discounts to homeowners who reduce their risk of loss from wildfires. But under the regulations as submitted, homeowners can spend thousands of dollars on wildfire mitigation, reducing their risk, but still lose their coverage or get no break from insura
By Stephanie Sierra, KGO ABC TV-7 San Francisco, CA
August 27, 2022
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A state regulation aimed to help Californians access affordable wildfire insurance is being used as a potential loophole, impacting Bay Area residents living in high-risk areas.
Los Angeles, CA -- Consumer Watchdog filed its final briefs in a California Public Records Act (“CPRA”) lawsuit against Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and the Department of Insurance. The CPRA suit alleges that Lara and the Department failed to search for and produce records related to a pay-to-play scandal involving insurance companies with business pending before the agency.
By Dave LaChance, REPAIRER DRIVEN NEWS
July 18, 2022
A California consumer rights organization is asking a court to order Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara’s office to disclose records of all meetings with representatives of insurance companies involved in what it calls the office’s “pay-to-play scandal.”
Los Angeles, CA -- Consumer Watchdog filed its Opening Brief in a California Public Records Act (“CPRA”) lawsuit against Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and the Department of Insurance. The CPRA suit alleges that Lara and the Department of Insurance failed to search for and produce records related to a pay-to-play scandal involving insurance companies with business pending before the agency.
Los Angeles, CA - Today, the California State Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill 11-0 that would require agencies to retain all public records for a minimum of two years. Yesterday, the Senate Elections Committee voted 4-0 to close a loophole in state law that allowed former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez to influence decision-making at the Department of Insurance without registering as a lobbyist.
By KPFA 94.1FM Pacifica Radio - Berkeley, CA
June 8, 2022
Click here to listen to the audio of this radio broadcast segment.
Carmen Balber with Consumer Watchdog explains why the group filed a complaint with the FPPC regarding the CA Insurance Commissioner's failure to disclose the source of certain funding to his campaign for re-election.
By Timothy Darragh, BEST WIRE
May 31, 2022
SACRAMENTO, CA -- A California commission on campaigns and finance has opened a money laundering investigation into the campaign of Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, days before his fight to retain his office in the Democratic primary race.
Los Angeles, CA -- Seven insurance companies have contributed $122,500 to the LGBTQ Caucus, which in turn spent the money on an independent expenditure campaign to re-elect Ricardo Lara as insurance commissioner without disclosing the source of the donations.
Los Angeles, CA - Today, the California State Assembly passed a bill 65-0 that would close a loophole in state law that allowed Former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez to influence decision-making at the Department of Insurance without registering as a lobbyist. On Monday, the Assembly voted 73-0 to pass another bill to require agencies to retain all public records for a minimum of two years.
Los Angeles, CA - The Department of Insurance has engaged in a “pattern and practice of obstructing access to public records,” according to Consumer Watchdog.
The latest public records failure for the Department of Insurance relates to “telematics,” a method of monitoring and/or controlling automobiles or other vehicles by using one or more technologies.
California needs an insurance commissioner with ethics. This candidate could restore trust
EDITORIAL BY THE SACRAMENTO BEE EDITORIAL BOARD
May 8, 2022
California needs consumer protection, not partying, dining and cozying up with industry lobbyists and executives
By The MERCURY NEWS and EAST BAY TIMES Editorial Boards
April 28, 2022
California needs a new insurance commissioner - one that voters can feel confident represents their interests.
By The LOS ANGELES TIMES Editorial Board
April 28, 2022
Ricardo Lara’s first year as California insurance commissioner — the elected office charged with regulating the state’s $310-billion insurance industry — was an ethical disaster.
Sacramento, CA – Ethics legislation to shine a light on insurance industry influence over decision-making at the Department of Insurance was killed by the Assembly Insurance Committee today when members refused to give the bill a vote.
AB 2323 (Levine) would have required the Insurance Commissioner and top-level appointees to publicly disclose meetings and communications with the insurance industry and others seeking to influence Department actions within seven days, and post these reports on the Department website quarterly.
Insurance Commissioner Lara Must Close Loophole in Regulation Allowing Insurers to Ignore WIldfire Mitigation for Denial or Non-Renewal Decisions
Los Angeles, CA – A regulation proposed by California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara to stop insurance companies from overcharging homeowners who reduce their risk of loss from wildfires must also apply to insurance companies’ decisions about which properties they will insure, consumer groups will testify at a public hearing in Oakland today.
Assembly Committee Approves Bill to Preserve Public Records
By Wes Venteicher, SACRAMENTO BEE
March 23, 2022
When the California Department of Insurance announced a plan to start deleting employees’ emails automatically after 180 days, an employee raised concerns that had nothing to do with scandals at the top of the department.
By Sophia Bollag, SACRAMENTO BEE
March 1, 2022
Fabian Núñez and Rusty Areias had a job to do.
The former lawmakers who left public service for private consulting were hired by a workers compensation company to convince the Department of Insurance to allow an acquisition deal to proceed. If they succeeded, they say they were promised a $2 million bounty fee.
Los Angeles, CA – Consumer Watchdog said a regulation proposed by California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara to require discounts for homeowners who protect their homes from fires is necessary and long overdue -- but falls short when it comes to insurance companies’ non-renewal decisions. As written, the regulation would not require insurance companies to consider home or community mitigation steps when making nonrenewal decisions.
Los Angeles, CA – A new state wildfire protection framework released this week is an empty promise for homeowners if the Insurance Commissioner does not also require that insurance companies give discounts to policyholders who follow its recommendations, said Consumer Watchdog today.
Draft regulations have been under consideration at the Department of Insurance to mandate wildfire mitigation discounts for the past year, yet Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara did not mention the rules or their status when announcing the “Safer From Wildfires” framework this week.
Los Angeles, CA -- The California Supreme Court has refused to review a lower court ruling that stripped the Insurance Commissioner of critical powers granted by California voters to protect against excessive insurance rates.
By Sam Mellins, THE DAILY POSTER
February 7, 2022
Major insurance companies are choosing to protect the fossil fuel industry while abandoning homeowners whose safety and livelihoods are being threatened by the industry’s carbon emissions.
The Department of Insurance pulled back a policy to delete agency email databases days after Consumer Watchdog warned it would go to court to stop it. Emails that are the subject of Consumer Watchdog’s ongoing Public Records Act litigation against Commissioner Lara and the Department could have been deleted from the servers and lost forever.
Los Angeles, CA – Despite attempting to conceal it, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and top lieutenant Bryant Henley communicated with two former lawmakers representing a workers’ compensation insurer at the heart of a pay-to-play scandal, according to new evidence in a public records lawsuit brought by Consumer Watchdog. The communications occurred while a high-profile merger and other regulatory matters involving the insurer were pending before the California Department of Insurance.
Los Angeles, CA – Consumer Watchdog joined 39 other public interest organizations in comments calling on the Federal Insurance Office to spotlight how the insurance industry contributes to climate change by insuring fossil fuel projects. A 2019 petition on this topic to California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara was denied.
Los Angeles, CA - Insurance companies have overcharged Californians by billions of dollars since the COVID-19 lockdowns began in March 2020, sixteen months ago. Today, in a letter to California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, Consumer Watchdog proposed a plan to get that money back to consumers, and to require that insurance companies lower their rates to reflect the projected ongoing impact of the pandemic.
Los Angeles, CA -- In responses to requests for admissions in pending litigation, Insurance Commissioner Lara’s Department has refused to answer straightforward questions about meetings and communications between the Department and known lobbyists for Applied Underwriters.
The outright refusal to confirm or deny whether meetings and communications took place is not only a violation of the Public Records Act (PRA) but also a betrayal of Lara’s pledge for full transparency in the wake of the pay to play scandal involving Applied Underwriters, Consumer Watchdog said.
Los Angeles, CA -- Despite his pledge for “transparency” in the wake of a scandal involving a workers’ compensation insurer, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has refused to release or even search for public records of meetings and communications with key figures—including with his friend and political mentor, Former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez.
Los Angeles, CA -- A group convened by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara to investigate insurance-related climate change solutions is recommending he let insurance companies insert secret models into ratemaking, a top deregulatory priority of the industry in California.
By Don Jergler, INSURANCE JOURNAL
June 17, 2020
Backers of a controversial bill in California, which they say is designed to increase insurance coverage in high-risk wildfire areas by amending Proposition 103, believe it has the right timing and plenty of momentum to go all the way.
Los Angeles, CA -- Consumer Watchdog has asked the Insurance Commissioner to block proposed hikes in the price of auto insurance sold to low income motorists in a number of California counties.
By KNX 1070 AM Los Angeles, CA
April 26, 2020
Harvey Rosenfield explains Consumer Watchdog's call for a freeze on all auto insurance rate hikes in California during Covid-19.
Los Angeles, CA – Consumer Watchdog today called on Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara to suspend all increases in auto insurance rates through September 1, or the termination of shelter-in-place restrictions, whichever comes later.
Los Angeles, CA – Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara should reject Farmers Insurance Group’s proposed 6.5–6.9% auto insurance rate increases and its 3-tiered rating system based on occupation under which first responders and essential workers on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19 pay higher rates, wrote Consumer Watchdog in a letter to the Commissioner today. Farmers’ request comes as a deadly pandemic sweeps California, for which virtually every California business has been ordered to close and residents ordered to stay home.
Los Angeles, CA -- A non-profit consumer group filed a lawsuit to compel California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and the Department of Insurance to hand over records of Lara’s meetings and communications with insurance companies that used campaign contributions in an apparent attempt to influence policy decisions.
Download the lawsuit here: https://www.consumerwatchdog.org/sites/default/files/2020-02/Petition%2…
Los Angeles, CA – Consumer Watchdog said in a letter today that Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara should reject a proposed 5% auto insurance rate increase by Mercury Insurance Company that discriminates against lower income, less-educated drivers.
Los Angeles, CA – “A year ago, Consumer Watchdog and organizations representing consumers, low-income workers and communities of color petitioned Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara to ban the use of occupation and education to set auto insurance premiums. These unfair surcharges on lower-income and less-educated drivers drive up the cost of insurance for people who can least afford it.
Los Angeles, CA -- An analysis of new data obtained from insurance companies by the California Department of Insurance (“CDI”) confirms complaints by Consumer Watchdog and other citizen groups that insurance companies are surcharging motorists based on their occupation or educational status, in violation of insurance reform Proposition 103.
Los Angeles, CA – The nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog has written California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the District Attorneys of Sacramento, San Francisco, and Los Angeles calling for an investigation of money laundering and bribery relating to the fundraising scandal engulfing California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara.
Los Angeles, CA – Following a Politico report that California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara billed the state for his Sacramento apartment, Consumer Watchdog has called on Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the District Attorneys for Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Francisco counties to launch an investigation over the potential theft of public funds.
Where the troubling trail of accusations dogging Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara will lead is hard to tell. State records show that insurance industry executives and their relatives gave tens of thousands of dollars to Lara’s campaign committee–even as he intervened on their behalf in cases before his agency.
We’ll know more on Aug. 31. That’s when Lara has promised to make public his communications and calendars of meetings with the executives.
Los Angeles, CA– In a letter sent today, Consumer Watchdog called on Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara to use the full authority of his office to preserve Californians’ access to home insurance.
Sacramento, CA – A wildfire insurance bill sponsored by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara stalled in the state Assembly today in the face of objections raised by the Department of Finance and Consumer Watchdog that the bill would expose taxpayers to unnecessary financial risks.
Los Angeles, CA -- Consumer Watchdog said legislation sponsored by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and scheduled for a vote Wednesday would needlessly expose California taxpayers to the same kind of complex and risky financial instruments that led to the 2008 financial crisis.
The bill would allow the state to purchase insurance and other financial products with none of the usual state oversight, including insurance regulation by Commissioner Lara’s own Department of Insurance and procurement rules at the Department of General Services.
Los Angeles, CA – Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara’s office will delay disclosure of the Commissioner’s calendar or records of his meetings with insurance companies to August 31st, according to a communication sent to Consumer Watchdog.
Commissioner Lara said that he would disclose his calendars in response to revelations that he took $54,300 in campaign contributions from insurance executives and their spouses, took actions that benefited the insurance company connected to three of those donors, and met with the company’s CEO.
Watch the video of California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara addressing insurance industry lawyers in Hollywood on July 25, 2019. The video was posted by Politico to accompany their July 29, 2019 story:
POLITICO: Lara tells insurers he's 'receptive' to their ideas, including vehicle data use.
Los Angeles, CA – Reporting published in the San Diego Union Tribune Saturday reveals that California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara intervened on the side of a workers’ compensation insurer on at least four separate occasions after receiving contributions from insurance executives and their wives with connections to the company.
Los Angeles, CA -- The non-profit, non-partisan Consumer Watchdog gave California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara until July 31 to produce public records related to his meetings with insurance industry representatives who gave him $54,300 in campaign contributions in a letter sent late last week.
Los Angeles, CA -- Consumer Watchdog said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara’s decision to return over $54,000 in contributions from donors tied to a company seeking the Commissioner’s approval for an acquisition was an “important first step that protects the credibility of the elected position you hold.” The non-profit advocacy organization urged the Commissioner to return the money in a letter yesterday.
Out-of-State Insurance Executive and Spouses Donate As Insurer Seeks Lara’s Approval of its Pending Acquisition
Los Angeles, CA – California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, who has approved $292 million in auto and homeowners’ insurance rate increases since being elected, has received a “D” average from the nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog on his first four-month report card.
Los Angeles, CA — On Earth Day, California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara chose “collaboration" with the insurance industry over urgent climate action. Commissioner Lara rejected a petition from 60 environmental, consumer and social justice groups that sought emergency rules to make insurers disclose the fossil fuel projects they insure. The Commissioner's refusal to act allows insurers to keep their complicity in global warming secret and puts the brakes on the forward momentum on climate built by the previous Department of Insurance, said Consumer Watchdog.
Statement of Consumer Watchdog: “Thirty days ago, Consumer Watchdog and ten other organizations petitioned Insurance Commissioner Riccardo Lara to stop insurance companies’ discrimination against low-income drivers and communities of color based on their education or occupation.