Heller, Doug

Doug Heller is the Executive Director of Consumer Watchdog. In addition to being Consumer Watchdog's Executive Director, Doug Heller is the organization's lead legislative and regulatory advocate on insurance and energy issues.

California Can't Stop Unreasonable Insurance Rate Hike, Says Insurance Commissioner

By Doug Heller

Anthem Blue Cross plans to go ahead with a 10.6% average annual health insurance rate hike on small business owners, despite the fact that an examination by California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones found the rate increase to be unreasonable and unsupportable, the Insurance Commissioner announced yesterday.

An initiative measure that will appear on the next general election ballot would give California the authority to publicly review rate increases, and reject those that are excessive. Unlike most states, California law allows unreasonable rate increases to take effect.

Confirmation Puts Focus on State's Toxic Waste

By Judy Dugan and Doug Heller
Consumer Watchdog

The underbelly of industry in California is toxic waste, from the arcane chemicals used to manufacture computers to contaminated engine oil left behind after an oil change at a service station. The state has strict rules and regulations on how such waste can be disposed of or recycled – governing storage, transportation and reprocessing to protect air, soil and water. In theory, families should be safe even if a toxic waste producer is within spitting distance of their neighborhood or school.

Mercury Insurance’s $150,000 Down Payment on Raising Your Rates

By Doug Heller
Consumer Watchdog

Mercury Insurance Chairmen George Joseph is launching another assault on consumer protections guaranteed by the 1988 insurance reform measure Proposition 103.  The California Secretary of State reports that Chairmen Joseph is the sole donor to the signature gathering campaign for a new Mercury Insurance backed ballot initiative that would legalize surcharges by Mercury and other insurance companies.  The measure would repeal Proposition 103's prohibition on auto insurance companies from considering a driver’s coverage history when a motorist applies for insurance.

Time For A 1988-Style Voter Revolt

By Doug Heller
Consumer Watchdog

Insurance companies, the legislature and recent court rulings have all turned against consumers, much like they had in 1988, when California voters struck back with the toughest insurance reform in America: Proposition 103.

By 2014, all of us will be required to buy health insurance or face tax penalties. The problem is that health insurance companies can charge whatever they like and raise premiums at will in California. This is the same scenario that drivers faced in 1988 when mandatory auto insurance laws forced drivers to pay for policies many couldn't afford. Voters then required auto insurers to pay drivers a 20% refund and to get permission before they ever raised rates again.

Mercury Auto Insurance Initiative Will Massively Hike Insurance Premiums

By Doug Heller
Consumer Watchdog

Motorists pay surcharges of 73% or more for auto insurance in states where Mercury Insurance is allowed to penalize people for not having prior insurance coverage, according to Mercury’s own web site.

The Campaign for Consumer Rights released a video at http://StopTheSurcharge.org that shows how a deceptive 2010 ballot initiative sponsored by Mercury Insurance would legalize such surcharges in California, despite claims by Mercury that its proposal will not lead to higher premiums.

When an Insurance Giant Funds a Ballot Measure, Watch Out For Your Wallet

By Doug Heller

Insurance rates for millions of Californians will jump dramatically if Mercury Insurance has its way. The auto insurance giant is circulating a proposed initiative that would allow insurers to surcharge people with a lapse in their auto insurance, even if the reason for the lapse was that they had stopped driving for a time.

Not only would the proposal target families struggling in this abysmal economy, it would leave more drivers uninsured and force everyone else to pay higher uninsured motorist premiums.

25 Republican Lawmakers Support Safeco in Insurance Overcharge Case

Dougheller.jpgDoug Heller,
Executive Director,
Consumer Watchdog

In a stunning show of fealty to insurance giant Safeco, 14 Republican state Senators and 11 Assemblymembers have asked the California Supreme Court to overturn an appellate ruling that Safeco Insurance has to disclose the names of policyholders it may have cheated.

Considering that state lawmakers are supposed to be spending their time grappling with the disastrous state budget, it must be very important to these lawmakers to protect Safeco from accountability for overcharging Californians, including, no doubt, folks in their district. Who do they think are their constituents?... O' Safeco, how can we serve you?