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OPINION

Changing the Culture of Georgia’s Insurance Industry

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/David Goldman

I’m no politician. I’m a soldier, having served more than 40 years in the Army National Guard — starting as a private and retiring as a major general. I’m a lawman, having joined the Atlanta police as a beat cop and eventually becoming a police chief. 

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And I’m a fix agent. I’ve spent my career tackling corruption, building bridges, and solving problems. As a native of Mexico, it has been critical throughout my career in law enforcement to connect diverse populations through education and crime-prevention programs that involve and improve Georgia’s communities.

When Governor Brian Kemp appointed me as Georgia’s Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner in 2019, I drew from those experiences in order to accomplish the mission.

My promise to Georgia voters was simple, and I set out to deliver on three goals: hold the powerful accountable, change the culture of our state’s insurance industry, and put Georgia consumers first. 

In my first term, I built a solid team dedicated to those goals, and we kept that promise.

We revamped the Criminal Investigations Division and our Arson Unit, stacking them with professional agents. Our citizens deserve to have those protecting them actually live in their communities, and not just in Atlanta.

We tripled the number of arson K-9 units deployed across Georgia, ensuring that this resource is available for fire safety and response across the state.

We cracked down on corruption. Within my first year in office alone, our team made 53 arrests for 275 insurance fraud and drug-related charges.

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We recovered more than $40 million for Georgia families. And we leveled the largest fine in our state’s history — to the tune of $5 million — against a major provider taking advantage of Georgia consumers. 

I’m humbled by the fact that Georgians rewarded this hard work by electing me to complete a new, full term in office. This move made me the first Hispanic elected statewide in our state’s history. 

I know this job is far from over. In 2023, we’ve hit the ground running. We’re continuing to keep our promises and focus on results. Here’s how.

First, we’re making it easier for consumers to report suspected cases of fraud. 

Earlier this year, the Department of Insurance launched a new online complaint portal. Citizens, law enforcement officers, and insurance companies can all use this tool to directly report suspected criminal insurance fraud to my office. All complaints are referred to the Criminal Investigations Division staff, and if needed, a Special Agent is assigned. This has effectively streamlined the process. 

Second, we’re protecting consumers and families. 

So far this year, Department of Insurance agents have made numerous insurance and drug-related fraud arrests across Georgia — with charges ranging from fraud to arson. And our agents have been on the ground in areas impacted by inclement weather, watching for scam artists who would take advantage of families. 

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Third, we’re holding the powerful accountable. 

Current Georgia law has a loophole that allows auto insurance providers to hike rates with no oversight from my office. This has allowed major providers to fleece consumers for far too long. I called it out last year during my campaign, and now a bill closing the loophole is heading to Governor Kemp’s desk. No provider should be able to unilaterally raise rates on families without oversight, and we’ve kept our promise to change that. 

Fourth, and finally, we’ve now recovered $49 million for Georgia taxpayers. 

For entirely too long, Georgia’s insurance industry — and with it, the Department of Insurance — has been beset with corruption and trapped in the past. 

Governor Kemp appointed me to this position because he knew it was past time to shake up the status quo — and the voters elected me last year because they trust me to finish the job.

My qualifications align with the mission — having spent my career as a lawman, a soldier, and a fix agent. The experiences and principles learned along the way have guided my work, and will continue to do so. 

We’re bringing a new mindset, one that puts consumers and families first. Our approach is practical, and our results are making a positive difference for people across the state, regardless of their zip code or background. 

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My continued promise to you is this: I will never stop fighting for Georgia families and consumers, and I will never stop putting Georgia citizens first. 

John King is a retired Major General in the Army National Guard. He currently serves as Georgia’s Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner and is the first Hispanic elected to statewide office in Georgia.

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