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Marc Levine: An Insurance Commissioner Who Works for Us.

The California State Insurance Commissioner runs the largest state consumer protection agency in America, serving as a watchdog over 1,500 health, home, and auto insurance companies. The Commissioner has a constitutional duty to protect consumers and vulnerable communities, and ensure fair play, integrity, and stability in the insurance market.

The issues facing the next Insurance Commissioner have never been more critical: ensuring access to high quality, affordable healthcare for all Californians as we come out of the pandemic, protecting California during a time of worsening climate change and increasingly frequent natural disasters like wildfires and floods, and defending consumers, renters and homeowners, underserved communities, working families, and Veterans from corporate fraud and abuse.

And today, with scandals and missed opportunities preventing the current Insurance Commissioner from doing the job, new leadership is essential. Marc Levine is ready to get to work for all Californians as our next State Insurance Commissioner.

Holding Insurance Companies Accountable, for a Change

Insurance companies operating in California are raising rates, so they can reap even more in profits while insuring fewer and fewer Californians. The current Insurance Commissioner is too beholden to the insurance industry to put the interests of everyday Californians first. As our Insurance Commissioner, Marc will be the top insurance industry cop California needs. 

  • Strengthen oversight and regulation of the 1,500 insurance companies under the watch of the office. 
  • Refocus the office on the critical work of protecting consumers, and zealously investigating and prosecuting insurance fraud, price gouging, and other predatory practices. 
  • Implement a No Bailouts policy. The State already bailed out utility behemoth PG&E twice. We won’t do the same for the private insurance companies engaging in risky financial practices that put our livelihoods at risk.
  • Order insurance companies to refund the excessive profits they have made by overcharging Californians by billions of dollars during the COVID pandemic. So far, under the current Commissioner, insurance companies have only paid back a mere fraction of this amount.
Standing Up for Wildfire Victims, Survivors, and Communities Most at Risk

With rapidly advancing climate change, every year California faces increasingly devastating wildfires. But the insurance industry is only making this crisis worse. They are writing off entire regions of the state, refusing to sell homeowner insurance in areas threatened by wildfires or raising rates to the point where nobody can afford them. We need an Insurance Commissioner who refuses to accept the status quo and who will stand up to the insurance industry and utility companies to protect our communities. That’s Marc Levine.

  • Marc has authored and introduced the California Catastrophic Wildfire Insurance Act, a groundbreaking piece of legislation which will make homeowners’, commercial, and all property insurance available in California more accessible and affordable. The legislation both increases investment in ongoing wildfire management and mitigation measures across the state and creates a new wildfire insurance market, safety net, and regulatory structure, in order to bring stability and predictability to the California property insurance market and protect those most vulnerable to wildfires.
  • Work to guarantee the right of insurance to all California homeowners. Insurance companies should not be able to deny coverage or raise rates so high that coverage is out of reach for homeowners, effectively redlining whole regions of California.
  • Establish a new California Wildfire Insurance Authority, similar to the state’s Earthquake Authority, to reduce risk, decrease costs, ensure accountability of the industry, and protect consumers.
  • End the insurance industry’s ban on customers increasing coverage during or immediately after an event such as a natural disaster.
Fighting for Affordable, Quality Health Insurance

The Insurance Commissioner has authority over how insurance companies behave in California. In the face of a global pandemic, affordable and accessible healthcare has never been more critical. Marc Levine will fight to protect and expand healthcare access for all Californians.

  • Author a new health insurance consumer’s bill of rights to protect the right to quality, affordable care for all Californians.
  • Ensure the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is protected and continues to be implemented as promised.
  • Enshrine a patient’s right to sue their insurance company by ending the practice of requiring pre-dispute binding arbitration requirements when people purchase health insurance.
  • Investigate fraud and abuse, reform inefficiencies, and establish new best practices in the massive PPO market that is overseen by the Insurance Commissioner’s office.

 

Protecting Californians from Insurance Discrimination

The Insurance Commissioner has inherent authority to step in and prevent discrimination in the insurance market. For example, insurance companies throughout California are currently getting away with insurance redlining, unfairly discriminating against underserved communities by charging them excessive rates based on their zip codes. Unfortunately, the current Insurance Commissioner is nowhere to be found on this issue. Marc will take action to prevent insurance discrimination on Day One.

  • Require the insurance industry to increase transparency over how they determine their rates, to protect consumers from unfair price increases and discrimination.
  • Close the loophole allowing insurance companies to discriminate against Californians based on occupation or education, and ultimately race. For decades, auto insurance companies have been allowed to charge premiums as much as 25 percent higher for drivers with lower levels of education or who live in zip codes with lower incomes, a backdoor practice that ultimately enables discrimination based on race. The Department of Insurance found this practice causes “wide socioeconomic disparities” and recommended banning it. The current Insurance Commissioner is satisfied with the status quo and has ignored those recommendations. Marc Levine will implement them.
  • Prohibit insurance companies from refusing to renew policies for people whose circumstances have not changed, enacting a strict consumer-protection standard for non-renewals, in order to prevent the unsettling surprise of indiscriminate insurance policy cancellations.  
  • Protect Veterans, their families and survivors from insurance fraud. And fight pension poaching scams that target older Veterans.
  • Prevent insurance redlining by requiring insurance companies to first obtain approval from the Insurance Commissioner before they can reduce the number of policies available in a given geographic area.   
  • Streamline the Low Cost Auto Insurance Program to make it more accessible for  struggling and low income Californians.
Defending Our Privacy

The line between insurance companies and data companies is becoming increasingly blurred, as insurance companies collect our information, use it to market products to us and determine our insurance rates (with zero transparency as to how they arrive at these rates), and even sell it to other industries, from car companies to Big Tech. The current Insurance Commissioner has even publicly bragged to insurance company executives that he wants to give them even more access to our private data. It’s time for an Insurance Commissioner who will step in and protect the privacy of all Californians. Marc will:

  • Make sure Californians’ medical records are kept private and secure. 
  • Safeguard the genetic and DNA information that more and more Californians are submitting to companies like 23 and Me.
  • Ensure that as more self-driving vehicles and cars with integrated data tracking systems appear on the road, our privacy is protected, and our safety is secured.
Protecting Our Climate and Reducing the Insurance Industry’s Contribution to Climate Change

Climate change impacts and exacerbates nearly every challenge facing our state, from public health and healthcare costs to the threat of devastating wildfires. Marc Levine is ready to use the power of the Insurance Commissioner’s office to make a difference in California’s fight against climate change, and all the additional challenges that come with it. 

  • Require transparency from the insurance industry about what fossil fuel companies they are underwriting and investing in. The insurance industry is financially joined at the hip with big utilities like PG&E, and they lose billions a year from pipeline explosions, fires caused by their own faulty utility equipment, and other accidents, which leads them to raise rates on all of us. As the nation increasingly shifts away from oil and coal, the insurance industry must no longer depend on fossil fuels to stay afloat.
  • Create a Climate Change Task Force of scientific and financial experts empowered to investigate the financial investments and underwriting practices of insurance companies, in order to ensure that their bad fossil fuel-related investment decisions do not result in exacerbating climate change or higher insurance premiums for California consumers.
  • Prevent insurance companies from passing on their investment losses to California consumers in the form of higher insurance premiums. Neither the costs of utility mismanagement, nor the impacts of climate change should be arbitrarily passed through to consumers, who are being forced to suffer the consequences, bear the burden, and pay the price for circumstances beyond their control.