Art Torres for Insurance Commissioner
In the race for Insurance Commissioner, voters will have a clear choice between Art Torres, a pro consumer candidate who has built a strong record on insurance issues as Chair of the Senate Insurance Committee, and Chuck Quackenbush, who has taken $500,000 from insurance interests, opposed creation of the very office he is running for, and voted against consumers nearly 100% of the time on insurance issues.
I. ART TORRES: INDEPENDENT WATCHDOG FOR CONSUMERS:
As Chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee, and for 20 years in the Legislature, Art Torres has earned a reputation as a watchdog for the interests of working Californians. Charged with cleaning up the reputation of the Senate Insurance Committee in 1992 following the bribery conviction of former Chair Alan Robbins, Torres immediately declared that he would refuse campaign contributions from the insurance industry. It's a pledge he has kept in his campaign for Insurance
Commissioner. Torres held America's first Interactive legislative hearings where voters watching at home could participate live on an 800 line. He put committee reports and analyses on CompuServe. He sought to show consumers that the committee belonged to them, not to the insurance industry.
As Chair of the Senate Insurance Committee, Torres also pushed an aggressive agenda of pro consumer legislation:
PROTECTING JOBS AND BUSINESSES
Art Torres understands that businesses are consumers too. As Insurance Commissioner, he will hold the line on insurance rates that threaten job and business growth. As chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee, Art Torres worked with law enforcement to pass tough anti fraud legislation. He cracked down on unscrupulous con artists who ripped off small business. His efforts to protect business has earned him praise and recognition from business groups.
This year, Torres passed legislation to give business a seat on the important Worker's Compensation Rating Board to ensure that business needs are taken into account when rates are set.
Torres' SB 1381, signed by Governor Wilson, relieves business of participating in the California FAIR plan if they write property or business insurance coverage for companies in inner city communities. Also, requires a pamphlet to be developed providing information to small business owners on purchasing commercial property insurance.
Worked with Commissioner Garamendi to cut workers comp fraud by 95%
Torres led a crack down on off shore insurance companies who collected premiums from California businesses and then refused to pay claims. Many of these business were victims of the Los Angeles Civil Unrest. Torres' efforts will be featured in an upcoming episode of PBS' "Frontline".
Torres authored legislation to require the Department of Insurance to make information about commercial insurance readily available to small business.
A nationally recognized leader in health care reform, Torres made California the first state in the country to use a universal claims form -- saving businesses and consumers an estimated $100 million dollars.
Torres authored a tough law to stop insurance companies from dropping terminally ill patients from coverage.
In the wake of several multi million dollar verdicts against health maintenance organizations who denied women treatments that might have saved their lives, Torres introduced legislation to give patients the opportunity to seek injunctive relief if their carrier denies them medically warranted treatment for life threatening illnesses like breast cancer. The new procedure will likely reduce the chances for costly trials while assuring that seriously ill patients are getting coverage they bargained for.
Art Torres is the state's undisputed leader on homeowners' insurance. After an investigative hearing by Torres revealed that many victims of the Oakland Hills Fire and Loma Prieta Earthquake had been re-victimized by unfair insurance company tactics and consequently were unable to get their insurance claims settled and rebuild their homes, Torres began working with disaster victims from across the state to fight back. Together, they have written and put on the Governor's desk, the
Homeowners' Bill of Rights (SB 1355). The measure requires policies to be written in plain English and explained to buyers when they are purchased. It also levels the playing field when claims are filled by homeowners.
In response to rising concerns about insurance companies pulling out of the homeowner insurance market, Torres joined Commissioner Garamendi to lay out a three point plan to stabilize the Homeowner insurance market by (1) expansion of the California FAIR plan, (2) placing a moratorium on non-renewal of insurance, and (3) passage of a National Disaster Insurance program along the lines of that proposed by San Jose Congressman Norm Minetta. Just two weeks ago, the Legislature passed Torres' SJR 37 urging Congress and President Clinton to immediately pass this act.
Since he first entered the legislature in 1975, Torres has introduced legislation to end redlining nearly every legislative session.
Torres worked with Commissioner Garamendi on regulations to require the industry to disclose the number of policies it writes in underserved areas. The companies would then be ranked in a published list. Companies at the bottom of the ranking would be required to come forward with a redemption plan. After the Governor blocked part of the Garamendi regulations, Torres introduced legislation to put the regulations into statute.
Torres and the AARP proposed creation of a Public Advisor within the Department of Insurance to handle consumer complaints and help policy holders who are having trouble with their insurance companies. (SB 1778) The measure is on the GovernorÌs desk.
A strong supporter of Proposition 103, Torres has already said he will speed implementation of the rollback regulations upheld by the California Supreme Court.
FIGHTING FRAUD TO REDUCE RATES
Senator Torres is working with District Attorneys and Law Enforcement on legislation to fight insurance fraud which adds 25% to the cost of all insurance. The measure, SB 1833, which awaits Governor Wilson's signature, will give D.A.'s more resources to fight fraud by increasing civil fines, and earmarking money for fraud investigation and prosecution. The measure also creates a first ever system for retiring Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINS) to take the profit out of vehicle
theft in California, which is the nation's leader in auto theft.
Senator Torres secured 50 new fraud investigator positions for the Department of Insurance for next year's budget to augment the department's ability to find and penalize insurance cheaters.
If elected, Art Torres is committed to ordering a top to bottom audit of the Department of Insurance.
As Chair of Senate Insurance Committee, Senator Torres televised Senate hearings, placed his office on line through computers, and created an '800' phone number so people can call in testimony.
II. QUACKENBUSH: TAKING INSURANCE INDUSTRY MONEY, AND VOTING THEIR WAY
During seven years in the Legislature, Chuck Quackenbush exhibited little interest in insurance issues until he decided to run for Insurance Commissioner. He has never sat on the Assembly policy committee dealing with insurance. He authored only 4 bills dealing with insurance.
Chuck Quackenbush opposed Prop. 103 and creation of the very office he now seeks.
In the wake of the Supreme Court's recent decision upholding Commissioner Garamendi's rate rollback regulations, Quackenbush has refused to say whether he will enforce them and speed more than $1 billion in rebates to consumers.
INSURANCE INDUSTRY FUNDING
After saying he would not accept money from insurance companies, Quackenbush has taken nearly $500,000 --60% of his total in this race-- from the insurance industry, including $200,000 from a single company. (Source: Sacramento Bee, August 4, 1994, Los Angeles Times, August 18, 1994)
Responding to questions about the influence of industry money on his judgment as Commissioner, Quackenbush admitted, "When you're taking contributions in a campaign you're taking money from people who you share a philosophy with" (Sacramento Bee, August 4, 1994) No kidding, while running as a pro consumer candidate, Quackenbush's voting record is nearly 100% against consumers and for insurance industry. Some examples:
Quackenbush voted against the HomeownerÌs Bill of Rights (SB 1355), in committee and on the Assembly Floor.
Quackenbush voted against a proposal sponsored by the AARP and carried Senator Torres to create a Public Advisor within the Department of Insurance to fight for policy holders who have disputes with insurers (SB1778).
"Consumer Candidate" Quackenbush voted against refused to support legislation to give a good driver discount for automobile policies.
Quackenbush voted against a law establishing a health insurance policy for seniors to ensure that seniors could get all the insurance coverage they needed.
After taking $70,000 from workers' compensation insurance companies, "business candidate" Quackenbush voted against Torres legislation (SB 1871) to put business representatives on the Workers Compensation Insurance Ratings Determination Board which sets worker comp insurance rates for many California businesses.
"Business candidate" Quackenbush voted against legislation by Torres which would have assisted small business owners in making informed decisions when acquiring commercial property insurance.
Quackenbush voted against a measure which the Governor signed to limit the Insurance Commissioner to two terms.
"Tough On Crime Candidate" Quackenbush is credited with weakening the Roberti Assault Weapon Bill(San Jose Mercury News). He also voted against a 15 day waiting period for purchasing a handgun.
After erroneously blasting Senator Torres for opposing a Quackebnush bill allowing minors to be tried as adults for murder, "Tough on Crime" Candidate Quackenbush missed the final vote on his own legislation (AB 560) because he was at a fund-raiser in Arizona. (Torres was also a co-author of this bill)
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