2023 brings new insurance protections for California consumers – InsuranceNewsNet

AB 2238, jointly authored by Assemblymembers light rivas, edward garciaand former Assemblymember christina garciadirects the creation of a statewide extreme heat advance warning and ranking system based on climate and health impact information by the California Environmental Protection Agencyin coordination with the Department of Insurance and the Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency program in the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. This would be the nation’s first-ever extreme heat wave ranking system when it is finalized by January 1, 2025.

SB 852, authored by Senator Bill Doddauthorizes the creation of Climate Resilience Districts statewide to help communities mitigate risk in advance of a disaster and promote recovery, a recommendation from the Department of Insurance’s first-ever climate insurance report that would improve access to insurance for all, so that we can better prepare ourselves from increasing climate change-related threats. CivicWell was also a co-sponsor to this measure.

AB 2134, jointly authored by Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber and former Assemblymember christina garcia, establishes the “Reproductive Health Equity Program” to make grants available to providers who offer reproductive and sexual health care free of cost to patients with low incomes and those who lack health care coverage for reproductive health services, including consumers who come to California from other states that have decreased access to abortion care services. The grants afforded under AB 2134 are in addition to $40 million appropriated in the enacted 2022-23 State Budget to help cover these important health care services. Planned Parenthood Affiliates of CaliforniaNARAL Pro-Choice of California, Access Reproductive Justice, Essential Access Healthand the National Health Law Program were also co-sponsors to this measure.

AB 1823, authored by Assemblymember Isaac Bryan, aligns the definition of student blanket policies that are 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 ACA 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 michael santiagois an important follow-up measure to Commissioner Lara’s previously sponsored “Parent Healthcare Act” last year, that would clarify and strengthen notice requirements for Medicare-eligible older adults who are seeking to be added as dependents to their adult child’s individual health insurance policy or health care service plan contract.

AB 2568, authored by former Assemblymember Ken Cooleycreates a “safe harbor” by stating that an individual or firm providing insurance or related services to a state legal cannabis business does not commit a crime under California law solely for providing that insurance or related service.

SB 972, authored by Senator lena gonzalezbrings thousands of entrepreneurial sidewalk food vendors into a more equitable and well-regulated food economy by updating the “Safe Sidewalk Vending Act,” which Commissioner Lara authored in 2018 as a member of the California State Senate to end the criminalization of sidewalk vending. Inclusive Action for the City, Public Counsel, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rightsthe Community Power Collective, and the Western Center on Law and Poverty – all part of the California Street Vendor Campaign – were also co-sponsors to this measure.

SB 1040, authored by Senator Susan Rubioauthorizes the Insurance Commissioner to order restitution from persons who sell insurance without the necessary license from the Department of Insuranceincluding “extended vehicle warranties” sold illegally through robocalls and misappropriation of consumers’ and businesses’ premiums, among other insurance scams.

SB 1242, authored by the Senate Committee on Insurancebolsters anti-insurance fraud efforts essential to protecting consumers from unnecessary economic loss by further clarifying agent-broker anti-fraud education requirements as well as the process by which alleged fraud is reported to the Department of Insurancein addition to other consumer protection proposals.

New laws that start taking effect in July 2023 includes:

AB 2205, authored by Assemblymember Wendy Carrillorequires health insurers and health plans offering 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 regarding the amount of separate abortion premium payments that are being collected from policyholders and distributed as claims. As we consider options available for payment of abortion services, this new law will help regulators and policymakers identify available funds to support abortion patients in California. Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California and the National Health Law Program were also co-sponsors of this measure.

AB 2043, authored by Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer Sr.., requires all bail fugitive recovery agents, commonly known as “bounty hunters,” to be licensed by the Department of Insurance to ensure that 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 bail agent or surety insurer, and maintain a minimum $1 million liability insurance policy so that harmed consumers have an avenue to collect damages.

In addition to these new laws, in October, Commissioner Lara enforced the nation’s first wildfire safety regulation to help drive down the cost of insurance for Californians at risk of wildfires, further protecting vulnerable consumers across the state. Commissioner Lara’s regulation is the first in the nation requiring insurance companies to provide discounts to consumers under the Safer from Wildfires framework created by the Department of Insurance in partnership with state emergency preparedness agencies.

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

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