You can get your attorneys fees and expenses paid by the insurance companies, the Department of Insurance and/or the courts under certain circumstances.
Proposition 103 was written to encourage public participation in the implementation and enforcement of the insurance laws. As noted in the Public Participation section, consumers have the right to initiate or intervene in insurance matters covered by Proposition 103 before the California Department of Insurance and the courts.
When you take advantage of your right to participate in insurance matters, either in the courts or before the California Department of Insurance, you may be entitled to reimbursement of your legal expenses, including attorneys fees and costs. The purpose of this is to ensure that consumers are able to hire expert, professional representatives.
Text of Proposition 103 as enacted by the voters:
(b) The commissioner or a court shall award reasonable advocacy and witness fees and expenses to any person who demonstrates that (1) the person represents the interests of consumers, and, (2) that he or she has made a substantial contribution to the adoption of any order, regulation or decision by the commissioner or a court. Where such advocacy occurs in response to a rate application, the award shall be paid by the applicant.
Law as subsequently amended by legislature (changes from voter approved law in bold):
Status of Provision:
In effect. Both the California Department of Insurance and the courts have awarded attorneys fees and legal expenses to FTCR and other organizations for their work defending Proposition 103 against legal attacks by the insurance industry, for legal work implementing and enforcing the initiative, and for challenges to rate increase requests.
Relevant Legal Materials:
The California Department of insurance has published regulations that govern the process of qualifying for intervenor compensation. Read these.
The insurance industry has sought to prevent public scrutiny of their rates and practices by attacking FTCR and other consumer watchdog groups who have successfully challenged insurance company rates and practices under this provision of the law. Read a fact sheet discussing the intervenor program.
Updated: February 4, 2003