Steve Poizner took the Oath of Office Monday afternoon, becoming California’s new Insurance Commissioner. During his remarks, Poizner vowed to make the office bi-partisan, lower insurance rates by combatting fraud, and to help the state prepare for natural disasters.
Following is excerpted from his speech:
“First, we must divorce the job from ‘politics as usual’. Consumer protection is not a Republican or a Democratic affair,’ he said. “When I return to Sacramento, I’ll call upon the Legislature to officially make this office non-partisan — just like California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction.
“In addition, this office must always be fiercely independent from those being regulated. I didn’t take money from insurance companies in my campaign. I won’t accept their donations during my tenure. To do so would be like refereeing a game while being on one of the team’s payroll. When I return to Sacramento, I’ll ask the Legislature to pass a new law banning contributions to my office from those who are regulated by, or do business with, the Department of Insurance.
“Second, I’ll fight to lower insurance rates by aggressively attacking insurance fraud. Right now, insurance fraud takes $500 out of the pocket of every man, woman and child in this state. I’ll enhance the capacity of the fraud units in my department to find and shut down insurance scam operations.
“And I will work with District Attorneys around the state to make the fraud unit so effective, and so renowned, that in California, criminals will be looking for honest work….. or they will be looking through the bars of a prison cell.
“Third, I will work with the Governor and the state legislature to help prepare the state for the next major natural disaster. Hurricane Katrina was a huge wake up call. Yet experts believe that California is less prepared for a major disaster than Louisiana was. This needs to change.
“Last year marked the 100th anniversary since the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906 – one of the worst natural disasters ever in the history of our country . . . 8.25 on the Richter scale.
“It’s time to review the insurance coverage offered by the California Earthquake Authority, especially given the fact that only one in eight homeowners in California even has earthquake insurance.
Underscoring his effort to strike a bipartisan tone at the agency, Commissioner Poizner also announced today that key executive staff members from the previous administration, including Chief Deputy Rick Baum and General Counsel Gary Cohen have accepted his invitation to remain on board for the near term to ensure a smooth transition.
The inauguration took place in front of 500 of Silicon Valley’s leaders at the Tech Museum of Innovation in downtown San Jose.
Former Bay Area State Senator and current Superior Court Judge Quentin Kopp administered the Oath to Poizner, who was joined by his wife Carol and their 15-year old daughter Rebecca.
Commissioner Poizner plans to travel this week to the Department of Insurance’s three main offices (Sacramento, San Francisco and Los Angeles) to meet with the agency’s 1,300 employees.
For more information about the Commissioner Poizner and the Department of Insurance, visit www.insurance.ca.gov.