Changes to California Disability Insurance Regulations Shouldn’t Precede Commissioner’s Run for Governor

I recently had the privilege to speak to Associated Press reporter Steve Lawrence and alert him to some troubling California insurance regulation proposals that would weaken consumer protections, “California Insurance Commissioner Seeks Disability Changes,”

California Insurance Commission Steve Poizner, gearing up for his possible gubernatorial candidacy, is attempting to rescind important state rules about how disability insurers handle claims, rules that for the past several years prevented insurers from denying claims or using offsets from pensions, wages and other sources to deny coverage.

According to the article, former insurance commissioner Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, who instituted the consumer measures during his tenure, agrees with me. He says removing the regulations would be a “disaster for policyholders” and “provide no foundation for protection” of consumers from overly zealous insurance adjusters.

Garamendi, who also plans to run for governor, is understandably alarmed at Poizner’s blatant courting of insurance industry deep pockets prior to announcing his candidacy.

While this may all be politics as usual in California, I believe it’s nothing more trying to garner the support of the big insurance companies in anticipation of the need for future campaign support. It certainly is NOT looking out for the interests of consumers! People with legitimate disability claims already have to fight too long and too hard for insurance payouts, and rescinding these regulations will only make it more difficult to get benefits.
After all, no one plans to become disabled. Let’s not remove important safeguards from those who have a small measure of protection when they do.

Poizner’s poorly timed and ill-conceived proposals should have every California voter thinking twice when and if they see Mr. Poizner’s name on any future ballot. 1/23/09 GRK.

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