Solorio helps insurance companies win, consumers lose on underinsured motorist vote

Jose Solorio

Asm. Jose Solorio (D - Santa Ana) - Photo: Chris Prevatt

SACRAMENTO — The Assembly Insurance Committee bowed to heavy industry lobbying and blocked legislation Wednesday giving motorists the full benefit of their policies when they’re hit by an underinsured motorist.

The committee decreed on a 6-to-3 vote to send AB 1063 by Assemblyman Steven C. Bradford (D-Inglewood) to interim study, an action that in California’s Capitol is tantamount to killing the measure.

John Montevideo, president of the Consumer Attorneys of California, said the push by his organization and other consumer-rights groups on behalf of Bradford’s bill was undone by an effort led by the Insurance Committee’s chairman, Assemblyman Jose Solorio (D-Santa Ana).

“Today’s action in the Insurance Committee does nothing more than allow big insurance companies to block policyholders from collecting the full benefit of their own insurance policy when they need it,” Montevideo said.

Assemblyman Solorio took the unusual step of personally making the motion to send the bill to interim study over the objection of its author, Bradford, who asked for an up-or-down vote.

Bradford’s bill failed to muster the required votes to escape the committee despite an appearance at the hearing by state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, who reassured lawmakers that the legislative effort would not cause ballooning insurance costs.

“Consumers should get what they pay for,” Jones told the committee, noting that a typical UM/UIM policy might nudge up by as little as $3 if AB 1063 went into effect.

Under the legislation, insurance firms would be required to pay motorists the full policy limit of their uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in cases where the cost of their injuries and damages exceeded any compensation from an at-fault driver plus their UM/UIM benefits.

Currently, insurance companies subtract any compensation collected from the underinsured driver from a motorists’ UM/UIM limits. For instance, a driver with health care costs exceeding the $100,000 policy limit of their UM/UIM coverage who received $25,000 from an underinsured at-fault driver would receive $75,000 from their own insurer.

Bradford’s bill would have allowed a driver in that tragic scenario to tap their full $100,000 UM/UIM policy in addition to collecting $25,000 from the underinsured motorist who hit them.

Assembly members Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) and Charles Calderon (D-Whittier) all voiced support for the pushing the bill out of committee over the objections of Solorio and several Republicans.

“If we really want people to get what they pay for we ought to support this bill,” Feuer said. Skinner added that motorists “need to know” their insurance truly provides full coverage to their policy limits.

Consumer Attorneys of California was joined in supporting the bill by several other consumer groups, including CALPIRG and Consumer Watchdog.

Doug Heller, Consumer Watchdog executive director, told the committee that UM/UIM is one of the insurance industry’s most profitable lines of coverage in part “because they’re not paying out what they should” to motorists.

The committee also heard from two victims – retired correctional youth officer Jim Green and Folsom working mom Melanie Williams-Irby – who suffered life-altering injuries only to find their insurers wouldn’t pay to the full limits of their coverage, payments that would have only gone partway to offset mounting bills. (You can read Williams-Irby’s testimony here and Green’s testimony here.)

Montevideo, CAOC president, vowed to continue the push to see California law changed so consumers can tap the full benefit of their UM/UIM policy in those catastrophic instances when they need help.

“California motorists should be able to trust that they really are in good hands,” Montevideo said. “Right now in California, insurance companies are using those good hands to pick consumers clean.”

  5 comments for “Solorio helps insurance companies win, consumers lose on underinsured motorist vote

  1. May 5, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    It’s a shame, he’s turning into Lou Correa. They’ll both say they need to do this, to please corporations instead of serving their constituents, but it’s just not true. Loretta doesn’t do that, and she calls herself a Blue Dog.

    I think Jose has spent too much time hanging out with lobbyists all these years. (Sorry, Jose) Thanks for calling him out here.

    • May 5, 2011 at 9:48 pm

      I meant to say, the perpetual excuse will be that they need to be corporate lackeys in order to remain politically viable in OC… and that’s not true.

  2. The Law
    May 5, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    Solorio is a complete shill for the Insurance Industry, and could care less about his own constituents.

    First, he proposed instead to raise the minimum insurance for all motorists instead, from 15/30 to 25/50. This would be a total insurance company giveaway, which would affect every driver who carries mandatory minimum policies in the state of California. The result? Guaranteed increase in money and profits to the insurance companies selling car insurance policies in California. The hardest hit? Jose’s constituents, which have the lowest per capita income in Orange County, and the struggling lower class and middle class, who have to pay more for the insurance they are required to carry. Lots more of Jose’s constituents going to bed hungry while big business sucks every cebt out of their pockets.

    Second: During “negotiating” the bill, Solorio proposed to repeal parts of proposition 103, a California Voter passed initiative which grants the Insurance Commissioner in California the ability to regulate policy rate increases for property and casualty insurance rates in California.

    Who’s his Daddy? Mercury and State Farm and Allstate . . .

  3. The Law
    May 6, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    He also proposed upping the minimum limits from 15/30 where they presently sit, which would be a total giveaway to the insurance industry as it would mandate all drivers carry higher liability limits and thus pay higher premiums – all in the middle of a recession. Who is hardest hit? Low income car owners who lose a greater proportion of their disposable incomes to pad insurance company profits on madatory – as opposed to optional, like UM/UIM – coverage. Think that would hit Solorio’s constituents especially hard?

  4. Disappointed Democrat
    May 6, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Assemblyman Solario has the background, charm and intelligence to be a major force for progressive change. He has a poster of Cesar Chavez in his office and poses as a friend of the common man.
    But the reality is far different. He answers to the call of the insurance industry over the well-reasoned arguments of consumer attorneys and insurance commissioner, Dave Jones. He reveals his true loyalty: to powerful interests who will fund his political ambitions.

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