Los Angeles, CA - The Department of Insurance has engaged in a “pattern and practice of obstructing access to public records,” according to Consumer Watchdog.
The latest public records failure for the Department of Insurance relates to “telematics,” a method of monitoring and/or controlling automobiles or other vehicles by using one or more technologies.
In a letter sent today to Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, Consumer Watchdog noted that “[s]tandout in this recalcitrance at the Department of Insurance is that of your own office—the Office of the Commissioner.”
In three months the Department of Insurance has produced just 16 records. Yet, there can be little question that Commissioner Lara and high ranking staff have had significant contact with the insurance industry on the issue of telematics because the industry has boasted about the meetings publicly.
On Friday the Department of Insurance once again failed to meet its own self-imposed deadline to produce records critical to the interests of consumers.
Download the letter to Commissioner Lara here.
“The purpose of government transparency, which is enshrined in the California Constitution, is undermined when records concerning issues of significant contemporary interest to Californians are not produced in a timely manner,” Consumer Watchdog wrote.
A new report by Consumer Watchdog details the privacy problems posed for consumers from “connected cars” and the use of telematics and points to new rules to be developed in California as a potential model across the country, if the rules can withstand lobbying by the powerful auto and insurance industries.
A recent video released by Consumer Watchdog documents that insurance industry representatives claim Commissioner Lara has privately committed to do what they want on the issue of telematics, but that Lara had asked them to first provide him “political cover.”
In the letter to Commissioner Lara, Consumer Watchdog wrote:
“The Department staff responsible for responding to public records requests told us on April 5th that your office—the Office of the Commissioner—among others has yet to forward to them any records that are responsive to our records request.”
In a parallel letter sent today to agency staff responsible for public records at the Department of Insurance, Consumer Watchdog wrote:
“Your position seems to be that you are doing all you can and that you are more or less beholden to the other divisions of the Department, and that it is their foot dragging that is causing delays. Under this scenario, no one is accountable, resulting in an indefinitely long response period.”
Download the letter to agency staff here.
Records “provided to the Commissioner pursuant to” Proposition 103 must be made public. (Ins. Code § 1861.07.) The California Public Records Act requires state agencies to identify and produce records “promptly” and without “delay or obstruct[ion].” (Gov. Code, §§ 6253 (b), (c), (d).)
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