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Monday, 05 October 2015 20:21

Shop Owner Running for LA Insurance Commissioner, Refuses Insurer Donations for Campaign

Matt Parker of Parker Auto Body said he is running for Louisiana Insurance Commissioner so he can change the way the insurance industry is regulated. Parker will face off against incumbent Jim Donelon in the primary, but unlike Donelon, who has received thousands of dollars in campaign donations from insurance companies, Parker has vowed that he will not accept donations from insurance companies for his campaign.

Parker stated, “You can’t effectively regulate an industry when you accept campaign contributions from them. Where we are today is a direct result of taking their money.”

Tom Aswell, author of the investigative blog, “Louisiana Voice,” wrote about the situation in August and claimed the Louisiana Insurance Commissioner race makes a case for prohibiting campaign contributions from those that would be regulated once the candidate takes office. In researching the candidates’ financial campaign data, Aswell found that, since January 2014, Donelon has received almost $130,000 of $500,000 in donations from insurers, whereas Parker has raised $76,800 in the same time frame. This doesn’t include all the contributions from the remaining insurance industry, such as agents, etc.

In regards to the incumbent Insurance Commissioner, Parker stated, “Our current Commissioner is not working for the people. Louisiana’s insurance rates have been some of the highest since he took office. The blame is placed on the percentage of uninsured drivers, hurricanes and other problems, but that is not the truth – neighboring states experience the same problems but pay less in insurance rates than Louisiana consumers. You know why our rates are so high? Because they can be! Insurance companies in Louisiana are able to do what they want. Last year, 3600 complaints were filed, but no corrective actions were taken, compared to neighboring states who impose penalties to force insurance companies to play fair.”

Parker recognizes that the McCarran-Ferguson Act allows for price fixing if regulated by a state official, but he objects to this being regulated by someone whose campaign has been financed primarily by the insurance industry. He observes that the insurance industry made $44 billion in net profit in 2005 which was the year of Hurricane Katrina, the biggest national disaster in U. S. history, and $64 billion in 2006, and while other states’ insurance rates decrease, Louisiana’s rates continue to rise faster than the rest of the nation. Although over 100 insurance companies write policies in his state, five major companies enjoy the majority of the market, so smaller companies can’t compete. The insurance companies want to save money to increase their profits, but they don’t pass it on to consumers. This is evident by the high cost of insurance in Louisiana.”

If elected as Insurance Commissioner, Parker hopes to bring fair regulation back to Louisiana, which, according to the Consumer Federation of America, doesn’t seem to exist. He wants to lower rates. He also plans to educate shops and consumers who are being mistreated by insurers.

“I’ve talked to shops all over the nation, and we’re tired of insurance companies running our businesses. This shouldn’t be happening in America, and we wouldn’t be having these problems if the government would do the right thing. Politicians don’t tell the whole truth about what they’ll do in office so we should give someone else a chance. The definition of insanity is electing the same people and expecting different results. We need to put working class people in office.”

With over 30 years’ experience in collision repair, Parker has experienced the relationship between shops and the insurance industry firsthand.

He understands “how the game is played. You need a conscious and a desire for people to be treated fairly to run an insurance department. For years, insurance companies have steered against the shops trying to protect consumers, yet we’ve stayed in business. I can’t imagine better qualifications than that.”

In order to raise funds, Parker has been appealing to body shops and consumers and even selling raffle tickets.

John Mosley, a Mississippi body shop owner who unsuccessfully ran for the position of Mississippi Insurance Commissioner, commented on the “Louisiana Voice” post, pledging $500 to Parker’s campaign and encouraging repairers to support Parker’s efforts to become Insurance Commissioner.

“His victory has the potential to set up a chain of events that could change the insurance industry in every state... Make no mistake, the insurance industry knows what Matt’s success will mean nationwide. Our industry knows it as well. The question is, who will step up and stand with Matt on behalf of consumers and repairers nationwide? I am sending Matt a donation of $500 today. If 1000 shops, 20 from each state, would do that or more, Matt could win,” said Mosley.

Parker feels compelled to stand up for what’s right because “when good people stand idle, evil takes over.”

He is hopeful that his campaign will be successful and he can effect meaningful change for Louisiana consumers.

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