At the 2019 WCIRB Annual Conference, California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara talked about the many challenges they are trying to address at their department. Among his comments:
The biggest concern right now is the impact of wildfires on California residents. How do we continue to provide affordable and accessible property insurance to everyone when the private insurance marketplace is pulling back in some areas due to high risk. Mitigation of the risk is key which includes addressing issues such as the types of building materials, the infrastructure, and land management. Right now the State is essentially self-insuring this risk and depending on FEMA for reimbursement. They need to find a way to insure this risk so money gets to those harmed quicker. We also need to find ways to make our communities more resilient in their response to these fires.
It is important to be able to provide health insurance coverage to everyone living in California, regardless of whether or not they are legal residents. The ultimate goal is expanding medical care. 24 hour coverage for everyone is the dream, but this is very difficult to achieve.
Long term care coverage previously purchased provided inadequate coverage to meet the need of the aging population. The costs of long term care is unaffordable for most and drives people into bankruptcy. People are living longer and we need to find a way to care for them.
How do we allow the insurance industry to use technology to innovate. We need to make sure regulations are not inhibiting innovation. The regulations need to allow things like insurance on demand for a short period of coverage and the expanded use of telematics to determine auto insurance rates.
How do we adequately protect and insure against cyber risk?
They are concerned with finding insurance coverage for the growing legal cannabis industry. This includes workers' compensation, general liability, and product liability coverage. One challenge is that this industry is cash based because it remains illegal on a federal level so it cannot access the federal banking system. The state is looking at the possibility of setting up a state run bank for this industry.
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