Industry News

Poizner keeps Democrat as top lawyer at California Dept. of Insurance

Gary Cohen an architect of proposed title insurance rate cap

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Saying consumer protection is "neither a Democratic nor Republican issue," California's new Insurance Commissioner, Republican Steve Poizner, has named a 14-member executive staff that includes Democrat Gary Cohen as general counsel and deputy commissioner. Poizner had previously been criticized for naming as his special counsel former insurance industry lobbyist William Gausewitz. Cohen, who last year helped put together a proposed cap on title insurance rates and escrow fees, will stay in the position he was appointed to in 2003 by Poizner's predecessor, Democrat John Garamendi. As insurance commissioner, Garamendi -- who was elected lieutenant governor in November -- argued that a lack of competition in the state's title insurance and escrow industries had led to excessive rates. In one of his final acts in office, Garamendi proposed capping title insurance rates using a formula based on the industry's costs, in order to limit profits. If companies refused to submit cost data...