2024 Public Official: Commissioner Ricardo Lara

Commissioner Ricardo Lara Awardee

Biography

Ricardo Lara serves as California’s Insurance Commissioner, marking a historic milestone in 2018 as the first openly gay person elected to statewide office in California history. His tenure has been characterized by significant actions, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, where he directed insurance companies to return health care and auto insurance premiums, resulting in cost savings of over $1.75 billion for California drivers. Ricardo’s response to the climate crisis includes leading efforts to protect Californians from wildfires, floods, and heatwaves by pushing the insurance industry towards sustainable practices. He authored the nation’s first climate insurance law, SB 30, and protected over 2 million policyholders from non-renewal after devastating wildfires.

 

Ricardo’s legislative accomplishments extend to health care. As a State Senator, he authored legislation for a single-payer health care system and the Health4All Kids Act, which now ensures all California children have full-scope Medi-Cal coverage regardless of immigration status. As Insurance Commissioner, he continues to reduce the number of uninsured Californians, strengthen clinics and public health systems, and lower costs. He also serves as Co-chair of the Special Committee on Race and Insurance within the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, addressing health disparities.

Impact

Ricardo Lara’s impact as California’s Insurance Commissioner is profound, particularly during crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and unprecedented wildfire disasters. His leadership resulted in over $1.75 billion in savings for California drivers by mandating the return of premiums during the pandemic. In the face of climate change, Ricardo has been a proactive force, authoring SB 30, the nation’s first climate insurance law, and protecting more than 2 million policyholders from non-renewal. He established the Climate and Sustainability Branch within the Department of Insurance and sponsored legislation to help wildfire survivors access their benefits.

 

His advocacy extends to healthcare, where as a State Senator, he wrote the Health4All Kids Act and pushed for a single-payer health care system in California. His ongoing efforts as Insurance Commissioner aim to reduce uninsured rates, strengthen public health systems, and lower healthcare costs. Ricardo’s role as Co-chair of the Special Committee on Race and Insurance demonstrates his commitment to addressing widespread health disparities.

 

Ricardo’s influence also spans economic diversity within the insurance industry. The Insurance Diversity Initiative, established in 2011, focuses on increasing procurement from diverse suppliers and enhancing diversity among insurer governing boards. Under his guidance, the initiative conducts surveys, promotes public policy, and hosts outreach events to advance diversity.

 

His leadership has created equitable opportunities for all, emphasizing inclusivity and advocacy for marginalized communities. Ricardo Lara’s tenure is marked by significant victories for working families, holding the insurance industry accountable, and leading initiatives that improve the health and well-being of Californians.