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Insurers Are Unrestrained, Thanks to GOP

Government: A Republican blames his party for the state mess exemplified by Commissioner Quackenbush.

May 21, 2000|CHRISTOPHER E. RUSSELL | Christopher E. Russell is a registered Republican who lives in Lake Forest and practices law in Newport Beach

As an attorney who deals with consumer issues, it is clear to me that there will never be any real oversight of the insurance industry here in California as long as the public continues to elect Republicans to the position of state insurance commissioner.

The Republican Party has been in the back pocket of the insurance industry for more than 25 years in California. Practically any legislation that has been proposed during that time period that could have helped consumers regulate the insurance industry has been voted down consistently by Republicans occupying either the governor's office, an Assembly seat or a state Senate position.

We are all consumers, whether we be Republicans or Democrats. The insurance industry is out of control here in California, as is shown by the recent revelations regarding Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush and his relationship with that industry.

I assure you that a significant number of those who are victims of the Northridge earthquake were also Republicans who voted the party line in 1994 when Quackenbush was elected. However, earthquakes don't damage only homes occupied by Democrats. They also may be the same individuals who voted against Proposition 30, the most recent attempt at legislation proposed to regulate an insurance industry that does not want to be regulated. They did so because their party asked them to vote against Proposition 30.

The recent revelations regarding Quackenbush and the insurance industry should make all consumers, Republicans and Democrats alike, come to the realization that legislation proposed, be it in Sacramento or by the initiative process, intended to regulate the insurance industry, is good for all of us.

The real story of the Quackenbush revelations is that the insurance industry is truly the bully on the block, and it gets away with such conduct because it has the money to do so.

The financial stakes are high. State Farm alone has assets in excess of the revenue generated by each state in 1999 except New York and California.

Remember Proposition 103, passed in 1988? The industry is still spending millions fighting that pro-consumer law. I would hope that the people of the state keep this in mind the next time they have an opportunity to vote on legislation that helps consumers regulate the insurance industry.

A simple rule of thumb: If an advertisement for or against proposed legislation states "paid for by insurers," vote the position opposite of what the advertisement is requesting that you vote.

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