State Senator Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) today called on the California Department of Insurance to take action on a state program that allows consumer groups to intervene in insurance rate cases and announced his intention to ask for a hearing on the program.
According to the Department of Insurance, just one group has dominated the Insurance Department’s “intervenor” program since Prop 103 was passed. It has been the only group to participate since 2007 and has charged more than $6.2 million in fees.
“The Department should broaden its outreach to all Californians that have a legitimate interest in their insurance rates,” said Senator Vargas. “We must get the facts about why more consumers are being excluded from the process.”
Proposition 103 established an intervenor program to enhance consumer participation in insurance regulatory matters.
“The voice of more California consumers must be heard!” punctuates Vargas. “Simply appointing one person from within the same Department, that has allowed this problem to go on, is not enough. The Legislature needs to have a hearing to determine why there are not more consumer groups participating in the Department of Insurance’s rate intervening program.”
Insurance Code section 1861.10 outlines the program:
(a) Any person may initiate or intervene in any proceeding permitted or established pursuant to this chapter, challenge any action of the commissioner under this article, and enforce any provision of this article.
(b) The commissioner or a court shall award reasonable advocacy and witness fees and expenses to any person who demonstrates that (1) the person represents the interests of consumers, and, (2) that he or she has made a substantial contribution to the adoption of any order, regulation or decision by the commissioner or a court. Where such advocacy occurs in response to a rate application, the award shall be paid by the applicant.
The California Department of Insurance intervenor fee payment schedule can be found at the following website: http://www.insurance.ca.gov/0250-insurers/0300-insurers/0200-bulletins/prop-103-recoup/report-on-intervenor-program.cfm
Vargas represents the 40th California State Senate District which includes the southern portion of San Diego County, portions of Riverside County, all of Imperial County and California’s entire US/Mexico border. Vargas represented the 79th California State Assembly District from 2000 – 2006 and served on the San Diego City Council from 1993 – 2000.