Commissioner Lara’s sponsored bills signed by Governor Newsom will increase consumer protections for Californians
News: 2021 Press Release
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara thanked Governor Gavin Newsom today for protecting California consumers through the signing of 11 bills that he sponsored this legislative session. These new laws will expand access to insurance, ensure discriminatory insurance practices cannot continue, create critical protection measures in various essential business sectors, increase diversity on insurance company boards, and expand job opportunities for the state’s small and diverse businesses, among others.
“Protecting consumers is our number one priority at the Department of Insurance,” said Commissioner Lara. “As Insurance Commissioner, I am using every tool available – including sponsoring critical consumer protection legislation – to help achieve this goal. I am grateful for all of the hard work by the authors of these important measures and thankful for the Governor’s signatures on all of them. From expanding access to insurance to creating critical protection and anti-discrimination measures, we are working to create change and continue to move forward.”
Expanding access and ensuring anti-discrimination in health and other insurance
- Assembly Bill 570, authored by Assembly Member Miguel Santiago, will increase access to health coverage and help reduce coverage costs for older adults by allowing adult children to add their dependent parents or step-parents to their health coverage policies in the individual market just as dependent children can currently be added to their parents’ health coverage.
- Senate Bill 280, authored by Senator Monique Limón, will remove discriminatory practices in the large group health insurance market by requiring these health insurance policies to cover medically necessary basic health care services such as women’s reproductive services, obesity care, and organ transplants. In addition, it would codify the federal Affordable Care Act’s prohibition on discriminatory large group health insurance benefit designs and marketing practices under California law.
- Senate Bill 283, authored by Senator Lena Gonzalez, is a follow-up to last year’s Equal Insurance HIV Act, which Commissioner Lara sponsored to prohibit an insurance company from declining coverage under a policy for life insurance or disability income insurance based solely on the applicant’s HIV status. This new law will prohibit a life or disability income insurer, on and after January 1, 2023, from considering an applicant’s occupation in determining whether to require an HIV test as well as from limiting benefits payable for a loss caused by or contributed to by HIV or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
Creating consumer protection measures in youth service organizations, recovery residences, the bail industry, and private for-profit detention prisons and detention facilities
- Senate Bill 334, authored by Senator María Elena Durazo, will require private, for-profit prisons and detention facilities operating in California to adhere to all state and local health, safety, fire, and labor standards already mandated today on state and local publicly managed prisons and facilities as well as will mandate that they obtain workers’ compensation and liability insurance coverage from an admitted insurance carrier authorized to do business in California by the California Department of Insurance.
- Assembly Bill 506, authored by Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez, will require youth service organizations to implement child abuse and neglect prevention measures, permit liability insurance companies to have access to a youth service organization’s compliance with those measures, and require administrators, employees, and regular volunteers of youth service organizations to take training on child abuse and neglect identification and reporting.
- Assembly Bill 1158, authored by Assembly Member Cottie Petrie-Norris, will ensure that licensed alcohol or drug abuse recovery and treatment facilities and recovery residences that contract with a government entity maintain minimum insurance coverage levels to ensure more adequate consumer protections.
- Assembly Bill 1347, authored by Assembly Member Reggie Jones-Sawyer Sr., will eliminate the bail bond and immigration bond industry’s practice of charging add-on premiums through “renewal fees” and protect against predatory tactics used to inflate costs that economically burden hard-working families with potentially thousands of dollars in additional unfair and unnecessary add-on costs. This is the first known law in any state to eliminate these fees for immigration bonds.
Increasing inclusivity and diversity in the insurance sector
- Senate Bill 272, authored by Senator John Laird, will ensure gender neutrality by updating language in the licensing provisions of the Insurance Code as well as for the California Conservation Corps and the Community Conservation Corps, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL-FIRE) in the Public Resources Code, and the California Highway Patrol Commissioner in the Vehicle Code.
- Senate Bill 655, authored by Senator Steven Bradford, will mandate reporting requirements for underrepresented groups on insurance company boards, require insurance companies to submit their governing board policy statement or measurable goals to the Insurance Commissioner, lower the existing California premium reporting threshold for insurance companies reporting their board and supplier diversity data, and define the term “diverse investment manager.”
Additional bills sponsored by Commissioner Lara include:
- Assembly Bill 1511, authored by the Assembly Insurance Committee, includes major proposals to provide insurance companies with the increased ability to broaden their California Organized Investment Network (COIN)-qualified investment holdings and to allow the State Compensation Insurance Fund to invest in environmental, social, and governance investments, including in the COIN program.
- Assembly Bill 494, authored by Assembly Member Chad Mayes, amends California law to assist in evaluation of insurance group risk and liquidity stress, thus helping California retain National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ (NAIC) accreditation for the California Department of Insurance. This new law will also contain the NAIC-adopted revisions to the NAIC Insurance Holding Company System Model Act and Model Regulation.
“I am so proud of the work we have done with our legislative partners this year to create these critical consumer protections for our state,” added Commissioner Lara. “I look forward to continuing to work with them, their colleagues, and stakeholders next session as we find creative, innovative solutions for insurance-related matters that consumers, hard-working families, and businesses face in our state.”
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The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $371 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance website at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800-927-4357. Teletypewriter (TTY), please dial 800-482-4833.