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To Make Insurance Commissioner An Appointed Official

The Assembly Appropriations Committee today passed legislation that would return the office of insurance commissioner to a gubernatorial appointment.

SB 225 (Kopp) -- which would repeal a Proposition 103 provision that requires the insurance commissioner to be elected -- now moves to the Assembly floor.

"Proposition 103 created an elected commissioner's position because a gubernatorial appointee is never accountable to the electorate, only to the governor and, inevitably, the governor's campaign contributors," said Jamie Court of the Proposition 103 Enforcement Project. "It is almost inconceivable that the California legislature would want to return to the days of double digit insurance premium rate hikes under Roxani Gillespie, California's last appointed insurance commissioner who is currently an insurance industry lawyer."

Gillespie, an insurance company executive before being appointed as Commissioner, exempted 402 auto insurance companies from Proposition 103 rate rollbacks and stone-walled Proposition 103's implementation.

Premiums Rise Under Appointed Commissioners

The Proposition 103 Enforcement Project noted that the average auto liability insurance premium has decreased 1% under California's two elected insurance commissioners, based on data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Prior to Proposition 103's establishment of an elected insurance commissioner, California auto insurance premiums had risen sharply under appointed commissioners -- as much as 11% per year in 1988 under Gillespie.

Nationwide, states with appointed commissioners, on average, have seen their average auto liability insurance premiums rise at a rate 21.4% higher than those with elected commissioners.

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