Calif. Commissioner Candidates Outline

By | June 14, 2002



Covering topics ranging from the State Fund to mold, California Insurance Commissioner candidates Gary Mendoza (R) and John Garamendi (D) outlined their visions of what they look to accomplish if they become the state’s next commissioner, during presentations at the Eighth Annual Insurance Forum for Insuring the Children June 12 in Anaheim.

Having both captured their respective primaries earlier this year, the two spoke about the state of insurance presently in California, what are the major problems, and where insurers and insureds are headed in the coming years.

Mendoza, who was the state’s former corporations commissioner, commented that there has been “too much politicization of the office of insurance commissioner the last 12 years.

“The challenges facing us include workers’ comp and the homeowners market. The workers’ comp system is in a meltdown. Our collective future is at stake, and we need to address the needs of legitimately injured workers and those people paying the bills.”

Mendoza said a major goal if elected is bringing more capital into the state.

“The problems in the homeowners market have sent a chilling message as to what our future holds. Companies need to be chasing consumers, not the other way around.”

Garamendi, who previously served as the head of insurance in the state, noted that, “these are interesting times. There is not much trust placed in the industry today. If elected, I will go back and rebuild the Department. Many of the battles that we’ve had in the past are history. There is a long list of issues, and we will act. I will not run a department that stands by and watches.”

In addressing the concerns of the State Fund, Garamendi pointed out that, “an outside credible analysis of where the State Fund is at is necessary. Is there under pricing with the State Fund? Competitors will say yes. There is no quick-fix solution.”

Mendoza reiterated that his top three priorities as commissioner would be to focus on the workers’ comp crisis, the lack of insurance availability, and the operation of the Department.

“When it comes to insurance availability, we need to ask ourselves just what it will take to write more business in California? As for workers’ comp, we need to focus on the abuse of the system and not rely so much on litigation.”

As for the current Department, Mendoza said that Harry Low has done a “good job as caretaker.”

One area Garamendi said he will focus on when asked about priorities, is to battle fraud both in the industry and fraud brought upon the industry. “We had a succeessful effort going after this problem, and in building relationships with the police,” Garamendi said.

When asked about the status of agents in the state, Garamendi said the Department would do whatever it could to help those who follow the law. “For those that don’t, we’re going to have some fun with them.”

One attendee asked Garamendi his thoughts on SB 1763, set for discussion in the Assembly Insurance Committee on June 26. The bill was designed to restrict companies from authoring mold and liability restrictions into their policies.

“It isn’t going to work,” Garamendi commented. “Companies won’t do it. They’ll find a way to write around it. We need to get a fix on the science when it comes to mold.”

The candidates also briefed attendees on their thoughts from auto insurance to restoring integrity to the office. The election is Nov. 5.

Topics California Workers' Compensation

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