Consumer Watchdog Says California Drivers Need Protections Against Misuse Of Technology By Insurers

By Dave LaChance, REPAIRER DRIVEN NEWS

September 23, 2022

https://www.repairerdrivennews.com/2022/09/23/consumer-watchdog-says-ca…

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: Californians Deserve Better Than Ricardo Lara and Robert Howell For Insurance Commissioner

Editorial by SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA NEWS GROUP EDITORIAL BOARD

September 21, 2022

https://www.dailynews.com/2022/09/21/californians-deserve-better-than-r…

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.

Will New Regulations Do Enough To Keep Homeowners From Losing Fire Insurance?

By Michael Finney & Randall Yip, KGO ABC TV-7 San Francisco, CA

September 9, 2022

https://abc7news.com/fire-insurance-home-risk-score-danger/12213902/

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.

Insurance Commissioner Lara’s Regulation Preserves Loophole Letting Insurers Ignore Wildfire Mitigation for Denial or Non-Renewal of Homeowners Policies

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

Statement of Consumer Watchdog on Violations of California Law by Mercury Insurance Uncovered by the California Department of Insurance

Los Angeles, CA - Today’s revelation by the California Department of Insurance(CDI) that Mercury Insurance Company has engaged in massive violations of Proposition 103 and other California consumer protection laws is deeply disturbing. But for those who have followed the sorry history of Mercury’s brazen misconduct, which dates back decades, it can come as no surprise.

Suit Seeks Release of CDI Meeting Records In California ‘Pay To Play’ Lawsuit

By Dave LaChance, REPAIRER DRIVEN NEWS

July 18, 2022

https://www.repairerdrivennews.com/2022/07/18/suit-seeks-release-of-cdi…

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.”

KPFA 94.1FM Pacifica Radio - Berkeley, CA: Consumer Watchdog Files Complaint Against Insurance Commissioner Lara For Not Disclosing Source Of Campaign Funds

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. 

California Commission Investigating Insurance Commissioner's Campaign Funding

By Timothy Darragh, BEST WIRE

May 31, 2022

https://news.ambest.com/NewsContent.aspx?refnum=241834&altsrc=23

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.

Regulator Investigates Insurance Companies Funneling $122,500 To Lara Campaign After Complaint Filed Over Failure To Disclose Source

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.
 

Editorial: Elect Levine To End Lara's Insurance Commissioner Scandals

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

https://www.mercurynews.com/2022/04/28/editorial-elect-marc-levine-to-e…

California needs a new insurance commissioner - one that voters can feel confident represents their interests.

ELECTION 2022: An Independent Regulator - Marc Levine Would Be An Insurance Commissioner For The People — And The Planet.

By The LOS ANGELES TIMES Editorial Board

April 28, 2022

https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2022-04-28/marc-levine-endorsemen…

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.

Consumer Groups Back Wildfire Mitigation Insurance Discounts, Call for Protection From Non-Renewals

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. 

Rules To Mandate Insurance Discounts Are Necessary to Give New CA “Safer From Wildfire” Prevention Guidelines Teeth

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.

State Farm Doesn’t Have To Refund $100 Million To Homeowners, State Supreme Court Rules

By Bob Egelko, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

February 9, 2022

https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/State-Farm-doesn-t-have-to-…

State Farm Insurance will not have to refund $100 million to homeowners after the state Supreme Court denied appeals Wednesday by California's insurance commissioner and a consumer organization, which both contended the customers had been overcharged.

Department of Insurance Changes Course on Email Deletion Policy that Threatened Records of Pay-to-Play Scandal Days After Consumer Watchdog Threatened to Go to Court

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.

New Evidence Reveals That Commissioner Lara and Top Staff Hid Communications About Meetings With Workers’ Compensation Insurer At Heart of Pay-to-Play Scandal

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.

Consumer Watchdog Calls on Federal Insurance Office to Expose Financial, Climate Risks of Insurance Industry’s Fossil Fuel Underwriting After California Fails to Act

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.
 

Proposed Regulation to Require Discounts for Wildfire Mitigation Measures Must Also Regulate Scores Secretly Used to Deny Home Insurance, Consumer Groups Urge Insurance Commissioner

Los Angeles, CA – Consumer groups said a regulation proposed by California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara to require discounts for homeowners who take home-hardening steps to reduce their risk of damage from wildfires must also apply to insurance companies' decisions about which properties they will insure. California homeowners, businesses and communities face unfair price increases and non-renewals, and new wildfire mitigation rules must protect against both, said the groups today at a public hearing convened by the Department of Insurance.
 

Insurance Companies Overcharged Californians by $Billions During the Pandemic – Here’s How to Get it Back

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.

Public Records Act Lawsuit Tests Ricardo Lara’s Pledge Of Transparency

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.

Auto Insurers Raking In Huge Sum At Drivers’ Expense - Report

By Lyle Adriano, INSURANCE BUSINESS AMERICA

June 30, 2021

https://www.insurancebusinessmag.com/us/news/breaking-news/auto-insurer…

Despite the majority of Californians driving less last year, most auto insurance companies operating in the state continued to charge pre-pandemic rates, managing to collect a windfall of about $5.5 billion, new analysis by Consumer Watchdog has found.

Consumer Report Claims Insurers Overcharged California Motorists $5.5B During First Year of Pandemic

By Staff Reporters, INSURANCE JOURNAL

June 29, 2021

https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/west/2021/06/29/620665.htm

Most California insurance companies continued to charge pre-pandemic auto insurance rates despite a vast majority of Californians driving far less last year, according to an analysis by Consumer Watchdog on Tuesday.

The report shows auto insurers reaped “a windfall of about $5.5 billion.”

Auto Insurance Companies Overcharged California Motorists $5.5 Billion During the First Year of Pandemic, Study Shows

Los Angeles, CA -- While the vast majority of Californians drove far less last year, most California insurance companies continued to charge pre-pandemic auto insurance rates, reaping a windfall of about $5.5 billion, according to an analysis by Consumer Watchdog. Newly published 2020 data show that accident claims plummeted as cars idled in driveways, but insurance companies failed to reduce rates accordingly.

California Insurance Commissioner’s Wildfire Working Group Embraces Insurance Industry Wish List at Expense of Consumers and Taxpayers

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.  
 

Mottek On Money: Consumer Advocates Ask CA Insurance Commissioner To Suspend Auto Insurance Hikes

By Frank Mottek, KNX 1070 AM Los Angeles, CA

April 27, 2020

Click here to listen to the audio of this radio broadcast: 

https://omny.fm/shows/mottek-on-money/mottek-on-money-special-edition-monday-april-27th

The founder of Consumer Watchdog, Harvey Rosenfield, asks the state insurance commissioner to suspend auto insurance rate hikes during the crisis and discusses other consumer issues.

CORONAVIRUS STALL: Watchdog Urges Suspension Of Insurance Rate Hikes

By Kevin Smith, THE DAILY NEWS OF LOS ANGELES

April 23, 2020

https://www.dailynews.com/2020/04/23/watchdog-wants-auto-insurance-hike…

A Los Angeles-based watchdog group is urging California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara to suspend all auto insurance rate hikes through Sept. 1 or for the duration of shelter-in-place restrictions, whichever comes later.

State Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara Should Stop All Auto Insurance Rate Increases During Pandemic, Says Consumer Watchdog

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.

Read the letter to the Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara.

Commissioner Lara Should Reject Farmers’ Auto Insurance Rate Hikes and Stop Surcharges Aimed At COVID-19 First Responders and Emergency Workers, Says Consumer Watchdog

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.

Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara Sued for Failure to Provide Public Records of Dealings With Insurance Executives in Pay-to-Play Scandal

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…

Commissioner Lara Should Reject Job & Education-Based Insurance Discrimination, Says Consumer Watchdog

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.

Data Shows Insurance Companies Use Occupation and Education to Segregate and Overcharge Communities of Color And Blue-Collar California Drivers

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.

Consumer Watchdog Writes Attorney General & District Attorneys To Investigate IC Ricardo Lara Over Bribery and Money Laundering

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.

Consumer Watchdog Asks Attorney General And DAs To Investigate CA Insurance Commissioner Over Apparently Illegal Payments For Second Home In Sacramento

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.

Ricardo Lara’s Troubles Aside, Reverting To An Appointed Insurance Commissioner Would Hurt Consumers

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.

Insurance Commissioner Lara Delays Calendar Release Another Month

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.

Consumer Watchdog Seeks Disclosures Regarding Influence-Peddling Scandal Under Public Records Act

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. 

Insurance Commissioner Lara Gives Insurance Industry Money Back, But Questions Remain About Circumstances Of Influence-Peddling At Agency

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.