California Insurance Commissioner Touts Bills Signed by Governor

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California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara thanked Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday for protecting the state’s consumers through the signing of 11 bills that Lara sponsored this legislative session.

According to Lara, the new laws will expand access to insurance, prevent discriminatory insurance practices, create protection measures in various essential business sectors, increase diversity on insurance company boards, and expand job opportunities for the state’s small and diverse businesses.

“Protecting consumers is our number one priority at the Department of Insurance,” Lara said in a statement.

Following are summaries of the bills and what they will do from the California Department of Insurance.

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara

Expanding access, anti-discrimination in health and other insurance

Assembly Bill 570, authored by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, is designed to increase access to health coverage and help reduce coverage costs for older adults by allowing adult children to add their dependent parents or step-parents to their health coverage policies in the individual market just as dependent children can currently be added to their parents’ health coverage.

Senate Bill 280, authored by state Sen. Monique Limón, is intended to remove discriminatory practices in the large group health insurance market by requiring health insurance policies to cover health care services such as women’s reproductive services, obesity care, and organ transplants. It would also codify the Affordable Care Act’s prohibition on discriminatory large group health insurance benefit designs and marketing practices under California law.

Senate Bill 283, authored by state Sen. Lena Gonzalez, is a follow-up to last year’s Equal Insurance HIV Act, which Lara sponsored to prohibit an insurance company from declining coverage under a policy for life insurance or disability income insurance based solely on the applicant’s HIV status.

Consumer protection measures in youth service organizations, recovery residences, the bail industry, and private for-profit detention prisons

Senate Bill 334, authored by state Sen. María Elena Durazo, is designed to require private, for-profit prisons and detention facilities operating in California to adhere to all state and local health, safety, fire, and labor standards already mandated today on state and local publicly managed prisons and facilities as well as will mandate that they obtain workers’ compensation and liability insurance coverage from an admitted insurance carrier authorized to do business in California by the CDI.

Assembly Bill 506, authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, is intended to require youth service organizations to implement child abuse and neglect prevention measures, permit liability insurance companies to have access to a youth service organization’s compliance with those measures, and require administrators, employees, and regular volunteers of youth service organizations to take training on child abuse and neglect identification and reporting.

Assembly Bill 1158, authored by Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, is designed to ensure that licensed alcohol or drug abuse recovery and treatment facilities and recovery residences that contract with a government entity maintain minimum insurance coverage levels.

Assembly Bill 1347, authored by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer Sr., is intended to eliminate the bail bond and immigration bond industry’s practice of charging add-on premiums through “renewal fees” and protect against inflated and unnecessary add-on costs.

Inclusivity and diversity in the insurance sector

Senate Bill 272, authored by state Sen. John Laird, is intended to ensure gender neutrality by updating language in the licensing provisions of the insurance code as well as for the California Conservation Corps and the Community Conservation Corps, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in the Public Resources Code, and the California Highway Patrol Commissioner in the Vehicle Code.

Senate Bill 655, authored by state Sen. Steven Bradford, is designed to mandate reporting requirements for underrepresented groups on insurance company boards, require insurance companies to submit their governing board policy statement or measurable goals to the insurance commissioner, lower the existing California premium reporting threshold for insurance companies reporting their board and supplier diversity data, and define the term “diverse investment manager.”

Other bills sponsored by Lara

Assembly Bill 1511, authored by the Assembly Insurance Committee, includes proposals to provide insurance companies with the increased ability to broaden their California Organized Investment Network-qualified investment holdings and to allow the State Compensation Insurance Fund to invest in environmental, social, and governance investments, including in the COIN program.

Assembly Bill 494, authored by Assembly Member Chad Mayes, amends California law to assist in evaluation of insurance group risk and liquidity stress, helping California retain National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ accreditation for the CDI. This new law will also contain the NAIC-adopted revisions to the NAIC Insurance Holding Company System Model Act and Model Regulation.

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