Commissioner Lara announces appointments to the CAARP Advisory Committee, the CIGA Board of Governors, and the Insurance Diversity Task Force
News: 2023 Press Release
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara today announced several appointments to help drive forward the California Department of Insurance’s mission to protect consumers. These appointments include naming reappointed members Bernardo de la Torre, Cynthia Strathmann, and Doug Heller to the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan (CAARP) Advisory Committee; Deepika Srivastava and Don Jones as the newest members to the California Insurance Guarantee Association (CIGA) Board of Governors, as well as reappointed member Christina Ozuna; and reappointed members Mark Morales, Rebecca Gardiner, and Tommy Smith to the Insurance Diversity Task Force.
"I am pleased to announce these appointments to the CAARP Advisory Committee, the CIGA Board of Governors, and the Insurance Diversity Task Force," said Commissioner Lara. "Protecting consumers and addressing inequality are top priorities for our Department. The advice and diverse perspectives of these appointees are critical to continuing our commitment to protecting consumers across our state through an overall healthy insurance marketplace in California.”
The Governor and California State Legislature created CAARP to provide auto insurance for motorists unable to obtain coverage in the private market due to their driving records or other extraordinary circumstances. One program within the plan -- the California Low Cost Auto Program -- aims to provide affordable liability insurance to income-eligible good drivers by assigning them to private insurers based upon the companies’ share of the auto insurance market. The CAARP Advisory Committee provides policy advice to Commissioner Lara on matters affecting the operation of its programs.
The CIGA Board of Governors oversees the guarantee association’s general operations and management in order to protect policyholders in the event of an insurance company insolvency. Established in 1969 by the Governor and California State Legislature, CIGA comprises all insurance companies admitted to sell homeowners, workers’ compensation, automobile, and other specified property and casualty lines of insurance in California.
The Insurance Diversity Task Force oversees the Department’s Insurance Diversity Initiative, which encourages insurers to advance diversity of insurance company corporate boards and increase procurement contracts with diverse businesses owned by women, veterans and disabled veterans, members of historically disadvantaged communities, or LGBTQ+ people. Additionally, the Task Force makes recommendations to the Insurance Commissioner regarding innovative ways to increase diversity within the insurance industry. . Earlier this year Commissioner Lara introduced the first-ever Insurance Diversity Index, a groundbreaking benchmarking tool for a more inclusive insurance industry.
The next CAARP Advisory Committee meetings will be held on November 14 and 15, 2023, the next CIGA Board of Governors meeting is November 8, 2023, and the next Insurance Diversity Task Force meeting is December 7, 2023. More details are available at: www.insurance.ca.gov/boards. Public members of the CAARP Advisory Committee receive $250 per meeting. All other positions are uncompensated.
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Appointed members are:
CAARP Advisory Committee:
Doug Heller is Director of Insurance for the Consumer Federation of America. Heller has authored op-eds, articles, and reports on auto insurance pricing in the United States, overseen regulatory challenges to insurance company rates and practices, and provided expertise in insurance-related litigation. Previously, he served as the Executive Director of Consumer Watchdog. He is also an appointee to the Federal Advisory Committee on Insurance. Heller has been reappointed to the CAARP Advisory Committee in the public member representative seat, with a term ending on November 10, 2024.
Cynthia Strathmann is Executive Director for Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE), a non-profit economic justice organization that advocates for tenant rights, healthy housing, and equitable development in Los Angeles. Formerly, Strathmann was a Research and Policy Analyst for Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) and is also a former Research Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California where she managed a National Institutes of Health-funded study of South Los Angeles families and health disparities. Strathmann has been reappointed to the CAARP Advisory Committee in the public member representative seat, with a term ending on November 10, 2024.
Bernardo de la Torre is owner of Law Offices of Bernardo de la Torre in La Mirada, a law firm specializing in the representation of injured workers and founded in 1985. De la Torre is a member of the California Applicant Attorneys Association Board of Directors and is a founding member of LatinoComp, which is a non-profit workers’ compensation professional organization. He is a former Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Pro Tem and is a recipient of the Attorney of the Year Award from the Mexican American Bar Association of Los Angeles County in 2011. De la Torre has been reappointed to the CAARP Advisory Committee in the public member representative seat, with a term ending on November 10, 2024.
CIGA Board of Governors:
Christina Ozuna is Senior Vice President – Chief Claims Officer for Employers Holdings, Inc. Ozuna has over 30 years of experience in the workers’ compensation industry with a focus on claims management, claims auditing, vendor management, and serious claim oversight. In her current role, she is also responsible for ensuring compliance with contracts, monitoring regulatory requirements, and managing reinsurance relationships. Additionally, Ozuna is a Member of the Kids Chance of Nevada Board of Directors (a chapter of Kids’ Chance, a nationwide organization), which provides college scholarships to the children of parents who have been killed or severely injured in a workplace accident in Nevada. Ozuna has been reappointed to the CIGA Board of Governors in a member insurer representative seat, with a term ending on December 31, 2026.
Deepika Srivastava is Executive Vice President of Medical Professional Liability and Group Shared Services for The Doctors Company Group (TDC). Srivastava oversees the operations of TDC as well as leads the group shared services of Business Development, Innovation, Digital Strategy, Technology, and Enterprise Project Office for TDC Group. She has served for 20 years at TDC in various roles in operations, information technology, and cybersecurity, including Chief Information Officer, Chief Information Security Officer, and VP of Business Operations. Srivastava joins the CIGA Board in a member insurer representative seat, with a term ending on December 31, 2024.
Don Jones is Senior Vice President of Claims Design and Delivery at Allstate. Jones leads the automobile line of business and leads multiple functions within auto liability claims and shared services. Prior to this role, he was Head of Claims at MassMutual. Jones has more than 30 years of experience in the insurance industry, from private claims consulting to almost 25 years with Nationwide. He is a member of the National African American Insurance Association as well as a board member of the National Insurance Crime Bureau and Allstate India. Jones joins the CIGA Board in a member insurer representative seat, with a term ending on December 31, 2025.
Insurance Diversity Task Force:
Mark Morales is a Vice President of Community Reinvestment at City National Bank. Mark specializes in SBA financing and Supplier Diversity for diverse owned businesses.. Mark is the SBA Los Angeles District Office - 2016 Financial Services Champion of the Year and the California Department of Insurance - 2018 Insurance Diversity Trailblazer. Mark is also Co-owner of Charles Jacobsen, Inc., an importer of antique furniture and accessories from Asia, which is a Certified LGBT Business Enterprise. Morales is President Emeritus for the Los Angeles LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce, serves on the Community Advisory Panel for Southern California Edison, and also is a member of the Leadership Council for the Los Angeles Business Council. Morales has been reappointed to the Task Force in the advocate/representative for LGBT business enterprises seat, with a term ending October 13, 2025.
Rebecca Aguilera-Gardiner is Vice President and Co-Owner of Diego & Son Printing, a second-generation printing business that is Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business and Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise-certified. She has over 25 years of experience in sales and marketing and has been essential in the continued growth of the 51-year-old family-owned business. She is also the CEO of the Veterans In Business Network, a nonprofit veteran business organization in California that advocates on behalf of the disabled veteran business community. Aguilera-Gardiner has been reappointed to the Task Force in the advocate/representative for veteran and disabled veteran business enterprises seat, with a term ending on October 13, 2025.
Tommy Smith is Senior Manager, Economic Impact, Impact Spending, at Kaiser Permanente, where he leads the engagement strategy for measuring the economic and community impact of Kaiser Permanente’s supplier diversity spend. He is the custodian of the Kaiser Permanente’s National Supplier Diversity policy and oversees Kaiser Permanente’s prime supplier program for identifying contract and development opportunities for diverse suppliers throughout our its value chain. Prior to his current role, Smith conducted policy analysis and program evaluation in civic engagement, economic development, education, supplier diversity, and workforce training. Smith has been reappointed to the Task Force in the insurance industry representative serving as a practitioner in the field of supplier diversity seat, with a term ending on October 13, 2025.
Led by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, the California Department of Insurance is the consumer protection agency for the nation's largest insurance marketplace and safeguards all of the state’s consumers by fairly regulating the insurance industry. Under the Commissioner’s direction, the Department uses its authority to protect Californians from insurance rates that are excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory, oversee insurer solvency to pay claims, set standards for agents and broker licensing, perform market conduct reviews of insurance companies, resolve consumer complaints, and investigate and prosecute insurance fraud. Consumers are urged to call 1-800-927-4357 with any questions or contact us at www.insurance.ca.gov via webform or online chat. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800-927-4357. Teletypewriter (TTY), please dial 800-482-4833.