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Best’s News & Research Service - May 03, 2021 12:26 PM (EDT)

California Insurance Commissioner Lara to Run for Reelection

SACRAMENTO, Calif. //BestWire// - California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has announced his intention to run for reelection.

Ricardo Lara

Ricardo Lara

Lara, a Democrat and former state senator and assemblyman, will be seeking his second term. California’s first openly gay statewide elected official, Lara said he would continue to work as a consumer-first commissioner.

“I’m excited to share I’m running for reelection for California Insurance Commissioner in 2022,” he said on Facebook. “I’m on your side in the fight to hold the insurance industry accountable, address climate change and expand health care.”

“Bullies never scared me,” he added in a Tweet. “I’ve been fighting the industry to put money back into the pockets of consumers during this crisis — and we’re just getting started!”

On his campaign website, Lara touts he has saved drivers more than $1.75 billion in automobile insurance premiums by ordering refunds for lower driving rates during the pandemic.

Earlier this year, he ordered more refunds, saying auto insurers did not give back enough, considering the reduced driving levels in 2020 during the height of the pandemic (BestWire, March 11, 2021).

He also cited his order to property insurers to stop nonrenewals of more than 2.4 million Californians, at least temporarily, following devastating wildfires.

Lara’s campaign site also mentions his creation of the nation’s first climate and sustainability branch within the insurance department, as well as launching a sub-national state-level partnership with the United Nations to create a “sustainable insurance road map.”

Lara in 2018 captured close to 53% of the vote in his first bid for insurance commissioner and said helping communities recover from wildfires that were burning on Election Day would be his first job as insurance commissioner (BestWire, Nov. 26, 2018).

His tenure got off to a rough start as critics hammered him for having accepted campaign funds from individuals with ties to the insurance industry. He suspended campaign activity in 2019 following the revelations (BestWire, Sept. 4, 2019).

He pushed back on industry preferences by seeking to curtail the use of affinity groups in underwriting, saying communities of color are underrepresented (BestWire, March 25, 2021) and ordering across-the-board rate refunds during the pandemic (BestWire, April 13, 2020). However, he also won praise from the industry by working with it to develop wildfire home-hardening standards and more forward-looking rates (BestWire, Sept. 17, 2020).

Lara is running for the Democratic Party’s nomination to run in the Nov. 8, 2022 general election.

(By Timothy Darragh, associate editor, BestWeek:

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