A Liability Risk for Airbnb Hosts

By Ron Lieber, Dec 5, 2014

Over the last few years, Uber and Airbnb have come to be known as leaders of something called the sharing economy.

Give their founders credit for this feat of mostly misplaced nomenclature. The companies help people sell rides in cars and rent stays in homes; they deserve no more credit for promoting a skill learned in preschool than Marriott or taxi companies.

But here’s one thing they do love to share: risk. Uber grew by heaping it on many drivers, asking them to push damage claims through their personal insurance companies while knowing that those companies did not cover commercial activity.

And now comes Airbnb with its  Read the full article…

California auto insurance fraud investigation nets 54 Bay Area arrests

A statewide investigation into auto insurance fraud resulted in the arrest of 54 people throughout the Bay Area, the state Department of Insurance announced Wednesday.

The investigation into the allegedly fraudulent claims could have resulted in more than $250,000 in losses in the Bay Area, state insurance officials said.

Department detectives partnered with district attorney’s offices in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, Santa Clara and Solano counties and local law enforcement agencies.

Most of the cases involved uninsured or underinsured drivers who had allegedly bought or added coverage following a collision or for damage sustained, according to state insurance officials.

The alleged fraud was discovered either before the insurer paid the claim or after
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Bills, oaths and receptions mark California Legislature’s first day

LROSENHALL@SACBEE.COM, Updated 12/01/2014

With a room full of freshly sworn-in state legislators looking back at her, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, offered a few hints on Monday of how this incoming legislative class will differ from those who have governed California in years past.

The man Atkins heralded as the longest-tenured “dean” of the Assembly – Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles – was elected in 2010. He is 40 years old. Atkins later instructed new members on the mechanics of voting.

“Please insert and turn the key now,” Atkins explained. “If you lift up the desk and look back there,” she added, “you’ll find a key.”

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California campaign spending boosts business-friendly Democrats


Hoping to reshape the Democratic coalition governing the California Legislature, business-backed outside groups spent millions during the 2014 election cycle to elect Democrats they believe will be more sympathetic to their interests.

Newly elected Democratic candidates aided by business-funded groups posted an impressive record. In seven out of 10 races to fill open seats, the Democratic candidate who benefited from independent spending by business groups prevailed.

Those results have prompted talk of a new generation of business-friendly Democrats assuming office. Some groups that spent lavishly on behalf of those Democrats are touting their success.

Californians for Jobs and a Strong Economy, for example, spent $1.1 million on the effort,
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Why 8 Out of 9 Californians Don’t Buy Earthquake Insurance

By , August 25, 2014

Early estimates suggest the economic losses from Sunday’s 6.0-magnitude earthquake in Northern California, the largest quake to hit the Golden State in 25 years, could hit $1 billion. When it comes to rebuilding, much of the cost will come out of people’s own pockets.

The percentage of homeowners with earthquake insurance in California and across the U.S. has declined, despite rising estimates of the risk of an earthquake. A survey by the Insurance Information Institute, a nonprofit that’s funded by the insurance industry, found that 7 percent of U.S. homeowners have earthquake insurance, down from 13 percent just two years ago. In the West, ground
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California Legislature is looking more moderate due to voting reforms

By George Skelton, LA Times, george.skelton@latimes.com, Nov 12, 2014

Until last week, no Democratic state legislator running for reelection had lost to a Republican in 20 years. Then suddenly three did.

When incumbents start losing their legislative seats, it means something is happening.

The national Republican wave? Sure. Some of that washed into California. But it wasn’t just that.

Also credit — or blame — voter-approved reforms that are starting to affect California’s legislative elections.

First, voters stripped the Legislature of its power to shamelessly gerrymander districts to protect incumbents. The remapping duty was handed to an independent citizens’ commission. The first effect was felt in the 2012 elections.

The idea was to make redistricting less
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California’s new Legislature inexperienced but has more time to adjust

BY JEREMY B. WHITE, JWHITE@SACBEE.COM, Updated 11/10/2014 12:27 AM

Like fire clearing an old growth forest, last week’s election elevated a class of freshman lawmakers who will join last cycle’s surge of first-term legislators to form one of the least experienced Legislatures in years.

When the 2015-16 Legislature convenes later this year, a majority of lawmakers – 72 out of 120 – will arrive with at most two years of state-level experience. The critical mass of relative newcomers reflects a shift in California’s term limit rules with dual consequences: While the incoming class of lawmakers is sparse on state legislative experience, it could also remain largely intact for a decade.

“I think it’s probably the
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No Senate supermajority for California Democrats, Assembly margin still in doubt


Two years after California Democrats swept to commanding two-thirds majorities in both houses of the state Legislature, they were unable to again claim the same margin in the Senate and the Assembly remained in doubt with key races too close to call.

Republicans captured two closely contested Senate seats central to the supermajority hopes of Democrats. Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen defeated former Democratic Assemblyman Democrat Jose Solorio, while Republican Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, repelled a challenge from Democrat Luis Chavez to retain a spot in the Senate he first won in a tight special election last year.

“I think the people want to see more of
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Once a crusader against big money, Gov. Brown is collecting millions


Twenty years ago, one of the first callers to Jerry Brown’s radio show, “We the People,” asked whether campaign money had influenced him as governor in the 1970s and ’80s.

“You bet I was influenced,” he said. ”You think you can collect $10 million or $20 million and not let it affect your judgment? Your behavior is influenced, and that is the vice that is destroying us.

“People who work in a fish factory,” he added tartly, “don’t realize they stink.”



Oct. 31, 9:35 a.m.: Earlier versions of this post identified a person in a photo caption as Anne Gust Brown, Gov. Jerry
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A Guide to Homeowners’ Liability for Injury to Trick or Treaters

By Christopher J. Boggs | October 31, 2014

Halloween pranks. Google this phrase and more than 5 million results link you to a myriad of ways to “mess with peoples’ minds” on Halloween. Some of the recommended pranks require a higher education to understand; some ideas are, well, strange; but some pranks are meant to do one thing – scare people (mainly kids). When kids and adults get scared, they do strange things, and sometimes they get hurt, or hurt someone else.

This is not intended to take the pranksters’ fun out of Halloween. Rather this is a review of the legal liability placed on those who set out to scare the little candy
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