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California Wildfires - Who Really Gets Burnt? Follow The Money - Part 1

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Fire Victims Feel Burned by Lawmakers Tied to Insurers

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

By Jordan Rau Times Staff Writer
February 27, 2006 in print edition A-1 

SACRAMENTO ” Karen Reimus’ San Diego house was obliterated by the 2003 wildfires, leaving nothing recognizable except a charred jogging stroller and her daughter’s burned bicycle.  Yet her insurer insisted that she catalog each of her family’s destroyed personal items  ” down to pens and tampons ” if she wanted to be reimbursed.

“When insurance companies are selling peace of mind the way they do in their advertisements, nobody has any inkling of the hoops you are going to have to jump through,” said Reimus, a 39-year-old lawyer and mother of two.

She reached a settlement with her insurer after months of wrangling. Dozens of similarly frustrating experiences prompted Reimus and other survivors of one of the worst wildfire seasons in California history to urge that new rules be imposed on insurers. But the most far-reaching efforts were derailed by a panel of state lawmakers that is closely aligned with the insurance industry, offering an unusually clear window on how Sacramento works and how legislation can be determined by a handful of well-placed politicians.

Insurers have spent $25 million on lobbyists

Insurers have spent $25 million on lobbyists, campaign contributions and perks for lawmakers  ” even some who regularly cross them  ” since 2003. Their money shows up particularly prominently in the campaign coffers of members of the Assembly Insurance Committee, a pro-business, relatively conservative bastion within the generally liberal Legislature.

Insurance money  ” more than $1 million in 2003-04  ” makes up nearly a fifth of some of those members’ war chests. And members, their spouses and their aides routinely accept expensive meals, free golf games, hotel rooms, tickets to Laker and Clipper basketball games and other gifts from insurers and their lobbyists.  

See which California lawmakers, that represent you, make the biggest bucks from the insurance industry in Part 4.

Source: Times reporting
Los Angeles Times

See the article on Los Angeles Times website

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