We go up against the insurance industry’s lobby every day. In the face of the industry’s seemingly limitless money and influence, we hold our own and then some most of the time. Despite our best efforts, the Senate on Friday narrowly approved legislation by East Bay Democrat Mary Hayashi that takes the side of the auto insurance industry against the consumer.
Hayashi’s bill would gut a consumer protection measure by Rep. Jackie Speier that was signed into law only a few years ago when Speier was in the state senate. Opposed by virtually every consumer group, including Consumer Attorneys of California, Hayashi’s AB 1200 would water down a prohibition barring insurers from “steering” consumers to the insurance company’s preferred auto body shops — shops that cut costs by installing knock-off and ill-fitting parts.
The bill had stalled two votes short of the majority earlier this week. But the insurance industry is powerful and its team of lobbyists managed to convince three more Democrats to take their side — Sen. Negrete McLeod, Sen. Curren Price and Sen. Rod Wright. To get an idea of what we’re up against, just two of the insurance companies backing the bill and their trade group, the Personal Insurance Federation of California, spent more than $812,000 on campaign donations and another $650,000 on lobbying in the first half of the year. We lost this vote. But we were proud to stand up for consumers and against the insurance industry — and we’d do it all over again.
The source of Hayashi's bill as noted in the legislative analyst's report is the Personal Insurance Federation of California.
What is the PIFC? It is the political lobby of the California insurance industry:
In 1989, two leading insurers in the state, Farmers Insurance Group and State Farm Mutual, formed the Personal Insurance Federation of California (PIFC) to serve as the principal advocate for the property-casualty insurance industry before the California Legislature. Today PIFC represents six insurance company groups and one national trade association which collectively provide more than half of the personal lines property and casualty insurance written in California.
These are the same folks that have fought every industry reform, including Prop. 103. They also have a PAC and Hayashi has taken $2,600 in contributions from it this year. Other insurance companies Hayashi has taken funds from this year include Allstate, Farmers Insurance Group, Liberty Mutual, and Mercury Insurance.
Here is a link to a Los Angeles Times article on the bill and vote in State Senate.