Lake County News,California – 2023 brings new insurance protections for California consumers

Lake County News,California – 2023 brings new insurance protections for California consumers

Beginning January 1, 2023, Californians will benefit from newly created consumer protections as 11 new state laws sponsored by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara this past legislative session take effect.

The new laws address climate change, expand health access and reproductive care, maintain health protections, protect against fraud, and ensure public safety.

“Consumer protection is my number one priority,” said Commissioner Lara. “Partnering with the Legislature and Governor Newsom is essential to my Department’s mission to bring fairness to all in our oversight of the nation’s largest insurance market. I look forward to putting these eleven new laws into effect by taking further action that benefits California consumers.”

The new laws that come into effect on January 1, 2023 include:

AB 2238, co-authored by Assemblymembers Luz Rivas, Eduardo Garcia and former Rep. Cristina Garcia, directs the creation of a statewide extreme heat advance warning and ranking system based on climate and health impact information from the Defense Agency of the California Environment, in coordination with the Department of Insurance and the Integrated Climate Resilience and Adaptation Program in the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. This would be the country’s first extreme heat wave ranking system when it is finalized by January 1, 2025.

SB 852, authored by Sen. Bill Dodd, authorizes the creation of climate resilience districts statewide to help communities mitigate risk before a disaster and promote recovery, a recommendation from the Insurance Department’s first climate assurance report that would improve access to insurance for all so we can be better prepared for the growing threats associated with climate change. CivicWell was also a co-sponsor of the measure.

AB 2134, jointly authorized by the member of the Assembly Dr. Akilah Weber and former Rep. Cristina Garcia, create the Reproductive Health Equity Program to make grants available to providers who provide reproductive and sexual health care at no cost to low-income patients and those without coverage health care for reproductive health services, including consumers coming to California from other states that have reduced access to abortion care services. The grants awarded under AB 2134 are in addition to the $40 million allocated in the enacted 2022-2023 State Budget to help cover these important health care services. Planned Parenthood California affiliates, NARAL Pro-Choice California, Access to Reproductive Justice, Essential Access Health and the National Health Law Program were also co-sponsors of the measure.

AB 1823, authored by Assemblyman Isaac Bryan, aligns the definition of general student policies purchased by colleges and universities with the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). This alignment is necessary to ensure state regulatory oversight and that consumer protections under the CCA are also applicable to these student health policies sold through a university or college to their enrolled students, including Dreamers and refugee students. .

AB 2127, authored by Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, is an important follow-up measure to the “Parental Health Care Act” previously sponsored by Commissioner Lara last year, which would clarify and strengthen notification requirements for seniors eligible for Medicare who ask to be added as a dependent. in their adult child’s individual health insurance policy or health care service plan contract.

AB 2568, authored by former Assemblyman Ken Cooley, creates a “safe harbor” stating that an individual or firm that provides insurance or services related to a legal cannabis business in the state does not commit a crime under California law only for the provision of that relevant insurance or service. .

SB 972, authored by Senator Lena Gonzalez, brings thousands of entrepreneurial sidewalk food vendors into a more fair and well-regulated food economy by updating the Safe Sidewalk Vending Act, which Commissioner Lara authored in 2018 as member of the California State Senate. to end the criminalization of sidewalk vending. Comprehensive Action for the City, the Public Council, the Immigrant Human Rights Coalition, the Community Power Collective and the Western Center for Law and Poverty – all part of the California Street Vendor Campaign – were also co-sponsors of the measure.

SB 1040, authored by Senator Susan Rubio, authorizes the Insurance Commissioner to order restitution from persons selling insurance without the required license from the Department of Insurance, including “extended vehicle warranties” illegally sold over the phone robo and misappropriation of consumer and business premiums. , among other insurance scams.

SB 1242, authorized by the Senate Committee on Insurance, strengthens anti-fraud efforts essential to protecting consumers from unnecessary economic loss by further clarifying the anti-fraud education requirements of agents, as well as the process by which alleged frauds of are reported to the Department. of Insurance, along with other proposals for consumer protection.

The new laws that come into effect in July 2023 include:

AB 2205, authored by Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, requires health insurers and health plans that offer coverage through Covered California to report annually to the Department of Insurance and the Department of Managed Health Care the total amount of abortion funds. This new law will require transparency and disclosure from health carriers to regulators about the amount of special abortion premium payments being collected from policyholders and distributed as claims. As we review available options for paying for abortion services, this new law will help regulators and policymakers identify available funding to support abortion patients in California. Planned Parenthood California affiliates and the National Health Act Program were also co-sponsors of the measure.

AB 2043, authored by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer Sr., requires all parole recovery agents, commonly known as “bounty hunters,” to be licensed by the Department of Insurance to ensure that claims appropriate education and training requirements are met prior to licensure and that all applicants successfully pass fingerprint-based background checks, obtain an appointment from a licensed parole agent or bail bondsman, and maintain a policy minimum liability insurance of $1 million so that injured consumers have an avenue to collect damages.

In addition to these new laws, in October, Commissioner Lara implemented the nation’s first fire safety regulation to help lower the cost of insurance for Californians at risk from wildfires, further protecting vulnerable consumers across the state. Commissioner Lara’s regulation is the first in the country to require insurance companies to offer discounts to consumers under the Wildfire Safer Framework created by the Department of Insurance in partnership with state emergency preparedness agencies.

The regulation is now state law and incorporated into the California Code of Regulations. Under the new regulation, insurance companies are required to make new rate registrations including fire safety discounts and comply with new transparency measures starting in April 2023.

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