North GA Blue: Getting into Good Trouble

Janice Laws Robinson, Democratic Nominee for Georgia Insurance Commissioner

September 14, 2022 Fannin Co. GA Democratic Party Season 2 Episode 37
North GA Blue: Getting into Good Trouble
Janice Laws Robinson, Democratic Nominee for Georgia Insurance Commissioner
Show Notes Transcript

The North GA Blue: Getting into Good Trouble podcast covers democratic politics in North GA, the 9th Congressional District, and across the state of Georgia. The podcast is in Q&A/Interview format with various democratic politicos including county chairs, democratic operatives, politicians, and more. It is our mission to deliver crucial information to our listeners in a timely manner as we fight for community values and principles in the 3rd most Conservative district in the state. Our website is: https://www.fcdpga.com/podcasts

Our guests highlight democratic activities and actions to work toward a Blue Georgia. The 9th Congressional District spans 20 counties across the region and covers a good deal of northern GA including Blue Ridge, Morganton, Fannin, Union, Banks, Athens/Clarke, Dawson, Elbert, Forsyth, Franklin, Gilmer, Habersham, Hall, Hart, Jackson, Lumpkin, Madison, Pickens, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, and White counties. 

Our democratic party podcast also disseminates information and interviews powerful Democrats across the state of GA working to overthrow the suppression tactics of the GOP and ensure democracy and our values, grassroots efforts, and goals remain intact. 

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Meral Clarke:

Hello and welcome back to the North Georgia Blue Podcast produced and distributed by the Fannin County, Georgia Democratic Party. I'm your host Meral Clarke and we're getting into some good trouble today with our special guest Janice Laws Robinson running to be our next Insurance Commissioner. Welcome to the show, Janice. We're so happy you're here.

Janice Laws Robinson:

Thank you so much, Meral. I'm excited to be here. It is an honor and a privilege to speak with you this

Meral Clarke:

Thank you. We feel the same way and right back at evening. you. So let's let our listeners know a little bit about you. Janice is a successful insurance industry veteran who has demonstrated integrity, diligence and an unwavering commitment to serving others throughout her career. As a team, she migrated to the US from Jamaica and embrace the principles of fairness, hard work and standing up for the voiceless that were instilled in her by her grandparents. Janice's journey to serve Georgians is a result of her life experience as an entrepreneur, award winning insurance professional, published author and devoted mother of two courageous daughters. As an insurance professional Janice has been recognized as a leader and Pace Setter in the industry by Liberty Mutual and Nationwide Insurance Companies. She has been ranked in the top 10 of insurance agents for providing superior Life Insurance Services and is also ranked in the top 25 of insurance agents for her exemplary work providing auto and homeowners insurance. She has a comprehensive leadership track record including owning and managing her own agency working with the Women's Professional Development Network, ie Women's Network, and landmark worldwide as the founder of total life empowerment. Janice mentors, aspiring entrepreneurs and agents helping them develop critical skills essential to achieving their goals. While Janice has led a highly successful career as a US citizen and proud Georgia resident for nearly two decades, she has a deep and abiding need to stand up for Georgia citizens. Janice will stand up for all Georgians as our next insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner. And oh my Janice, may I say that I cannot wait to vote for you come November. We are so excited about you and your candidacy and your run for this office. Thank you so much for that.

Janice Laws Robinson:

Thank you, Meral. And I would not be here without your support and the support of all our listeners. So very grateful.

Meral Clarke:

Always. And once again, as I do on nearly every show, I would urge our listeners to vote on the ballot from the top all the way down, because every single statewide race is so important. So let's dive right in. Tell us how you'll use your office to ensure affordable premiums, especially for automobile insurance. It just seems like rates keep going up and up and up every year. And it's becoming untenable. How would you ensure affordable premiums for all Georgians?

Janice Laws Robinson:

Now that's a great question. As we speak, insurance rates are going up. I just saw Allstate filed 40% rate increase on auto insurance in the last 12 months which is going to be in effect September 12. So as of September 12, folks that are insured with Allstate Insurance will be paying up to 40% higher rates that is unacceptable. On acceptable and we have been dealing with this for over a decade, you will not believe what the current insurance commissioner issued a statement telling Georgians to call Allstate to find out why their rates are going up. So we have an insurance commissioner who is unwilling to fight for Georgia. That is why I'm running. I am running because for over a decade, in fact, almost 25 years we have been under Republican rule in this office. And that's what we've seen. We've seen the rates climbing and every single Insurance Commissioner her statement has been, there's nothing we can do about it, call your insurance company. That's unacceptable because they are elected to serve us. This office of Insurance Commission was designed to be a consumer advocacy office. And that's not been happening. So number one, as Insurance Commissioner, I will challenge these rate increases, I will absolutely use my investigative powers to fight these rate increases, I will challenge our lawmakers to repeal and replace these bad laws that allows insurance companies loopholes to file rates as much as 40%. There is a loophole. And he did mention that there is a loophole. But what he didn't say as they are the ones that allow the loophole Republicans are the ones that allow them to vote, and they are the ones they've had over two decades to do something about and they have not, their time is up. So specifically, I am ready to challenge lawmakers to challenge insurance companies, and to hold them accountable to making sure that we have affordable rates in Georgia, because this is unacceptable. And it's just outrageous.

Meral Clarke:

Well, that would be a nice change, because I don't know of anything that the current Republican Insurance Commissioner is doing on any level, to alleviate these burdens off of Georgians, and it is reprehensible as far as I'm concerned.

Janice Laws Robinson:

Now, there's some things we can do. Number one, we can challenge the rates. But there's also another area that I see that we can make change because one of the things that insurance companies are allowed to do in Georgia is they use socio economic factors to rate auto insurance such as credit score, education level, Job Status, things that have nothing to do with insurance, or your driving record, oh, they are using these factors to further I just call it flat out redlining to redline black and brown communities to charge higher premiums to people that quite frankly, are already struggling and cannot afford it. And states like California and other states have already passed laws to stop insurance companies from using credit scores. So as your next Insurance Commissioner, I will work hard to ensure that those practices are eliminated from our state practices of redlining are eliminated practices of using credit scores and job status. education level, it's just unbelievable. That insurance companies are allowed to do this, because no one is stopping.

Meral Clarke:

I'm shocked that they would do that. Well, I am. And I'm not. Because we know that Republicans are all about big business. And they don't care about the actual consumer. So and I'll go ahead and say that, and you're right. It is redlining. It's just another form of discrimination and not just against people of color, but also rural Georgians who are struggling as well.

Janice Laws Robinson:

Yes, not just people of color. It just disproportionately impacts people of color, black and brown communities lower income, but rule all over the state. This is a state wide problem. 89% of our counties have unaffordable insurance rates.

Meral Clarke:

That is unbelievable and extremely disheartening to hear. But of course, the only way to alleviate that situation is to elect Democrats up and down the ballot up and down the ballot. Absolutely. Now, is this something you can do through the powers of your office? Or would you need the state legislature to sign off on that?

Janice Laws Robinson:

This office, we have a lot of powers to regulate the insurance companies to create different rules and to directly impact what the insurance companies do. And so some of our work will be direct with the insurance carriers and some will be with the state legislature for sure. But we have power to make change happen outside of the legislature.

Meral Clarke:

That's good to know. So let's move on to bad practices. We know that insurance companies when left unregulated before unfettered will run rampant and oftentimes do with bad practices. Tell us about bad practices, what they are and what you would do to ensure that Georgia's consumers are not hit by insurance companies taking advantage of their situation.

Janice Laws Robinson:

Absolutely. That practices start with the rights that we've talked about, but a big part of it is when consumers have claims. That is where we see insurance companies really take advantage of Georgia consumers. For example, I've seen where homeowners, I've had damage to their homes, especially here and my county, I live in Coweta County, we had a tornado over a year and a half ago. And we still have homeowners that have not been compensated that are struggling with insurance companies in repairing their homes. That's just unacceptable. That is what we're dealing with insurance companies just dragging their feet for months and years, sometimes for someone to be made whole. And that is a problem. Because insurance is a promise when someone buys a policy, they're buying the insurance companies promise to pay them in the event of an accident, sickness or death of a loved one. And they need to do that in a timely manner. It's called indemnification where they promise to indemnify which means to make whole that person. And they're not doing that. And so my commitment as insurance commissioner, is to hold these insurance companies accountable. And that area we can do Oh, we can do a lot. Because as you know, the insurance commissioner license, the insurance companies, their agents and brokers, their adjusters, so we have a lot of leverage in holding them accountable with their license. So we can investigate them, we can investigate their claims practices, we can see how long they're taking to respond to claims. And we can really make some strong messaging some strong threats. If they're not taking care of customers. We can not when you realize things if we need to, we can find them if we need to. But we definitely will hold them accountable to taking care of Georgians. And if they're not going to do that they can leave the state, you know, Republicans, they're always afraid of free crack down on insurance companies. They're gonna leave the state Well, guess what, let them leave the state and let's replace them with better companies that's going to take care of our citizens and do the right thing. But the truth is, they won't leave. I talked to our last democratic Insurance Commissioner, and he told me, I did not approve one rate increase. I held them accountable. And not one company left the state. So that's just their way of not doing the right thing for Georgians.

Meral Clarke:

Which seems to happen so often, especially across statewide offices. So as the strong consumer advocate that you are, obviously and as someone who cares about all Georgians, not just a select privileged few, tell us how you would work to ensure all Georgians are protected, and also work in a bipartisan manner with a majority Republican legislature. How do you see yourself upgrading within that construct?

Janice Laws Robinson:

We know that we're going to flip a lot of seats in November, so we will be democratic.

Meral Clarke:

Gosh, I hope so. It's my dream.

Janice Laws Robinson:

However, if there is not the case, and I do have to work with a majority, Republican, I am highly trained in communication and working with different groups across various walks of life. And I will stand in my commitment to Georgia families to doing the right thing and hold them accountable. I will work every single day and night, I will not stop. I will bring the facts, because it is up to the insurance commissioner to do the market research to do the reports to do the investigation and prove their case to the House Committee on insurance and to the Senate committee for insurance and labor. So it is up to my office to do the work and to bring the case to make the request every quarter. We have reports to do in the Insurance Commission Office and to show the issues that we're dealing with in the insurance industry to show what Georgia has to deal with and to make those case that is part of the insurance commissioners job that's not being done. So I will be working hard to make sure we have all the facts we have our information and with my passion. I will fight like no other to ensure that they do the right thing. I will not stop

Meral Clarke:

And I believe you Hey, and I so much appreciate that passion, I can hear it just exuding from you. I mean, on every level. So thank you.

Janice Laws Robinson:

Yes, I appreciate it. And I will listen, I will work together with everyone, but I will not bend, I will be relentless, it will not be easy, I can tell you that, but I'm not looking for easy. I'm ready to do the hard work to stand up for Georgia. So it will be whatever it takes.

Meral Clarke:

Again, that would be a refreshing change. And we'd love to see that I also want to touch on elevator safety. There was a much publicized death, I believe of a high school student who died in an elevator where the safety inspections were not being performed. And in your office, you will also be responsible for fire safety codes for new buildings. And those are not peeking in force because we know Republicans don't believe in regulations. So how would you change that aspect of the office and just make sure that all the safety protocols are up to date.

Janice Laws Robinson:

Number one is just to ensure that we have enough inspectors, that was one of the issues, they don't have enough inspectors to inspect the elevators in the buildings and to make sure they're safe, because it's just not a priority. So I will assess the department that deals with elevators safety and to ensure what's wanted and needed to have the number of inspectors to sufficiently cover all communities, because that is a big issue.

Meral Clarke:

It's not because we can't afford it. No, it's not. Because they don't care. Right?

Janice Laws Robinson:

They absolutely don't care. Sometimes I wonder what is it that they do? Because no one in the state knows, even as I travel the state, it's just amazing that no one even knows, oh, we have an insurance commissioner. Really? What's their name? What do they do? No one knows that there's an insurance commissioner. And they're even in charge of elevators, safety and fire safety and all that. So my intention, my plan is to shift that into create a framework statewide that opens up the Department of Insurance so that everyone has a voice. urban, suburban and rural communities have a seat at the table equal to what insurance companies have enjoyed for years.

Meral Clarke:

Again, that would be great. And certainly people need to be aware of statewide offices such as insurance commissioner, labor commissioner, Attorney General excetera.

Janice Laws Robinson:

Yes. Agriculture commissioners.

Meral Clarke:

Yes, Nikita Hemingway, Representative William Bodie, I could go, and of course, ginger. And I could go on and on. But the statewide offices are so important in changing our landscapes. So thank you for that.

Janice Laws Robinson:

Absolutely. And insurance is one of the most important because it impacts all of our everyday lives. There's usually not a crowd that I'm in that everyone doesn't raise their hand that they pay some type of insurance, whether it's auto insurance, home insurance, health insurance, life insurance, business insurance. And I one thing I always remember when I first did my insurance licensing over two decades ago, one of the very first quotes in our study material said, Without insurance, society would come to a screeching halt. That's all important insurance.

Meral Clarke:

Oh, yes, you have to have it. I mean, you have to first of all, you have to have auto insurance, by law,

Janice Laws Robinson:

By law, yes, you can impose on the house without it. Last time, you can't lease a building without it. You can't drive off the car lot without. Sometimes you can't. I mean, you can go to the emergency room. But there's just so many aspects of our lives that require insurance that we need someone that has a heart, someone that cares, someone that understands and is willing to put their heart and soul in it and to fight and to ensure that we have representation, and that insurance companies are held accountable, and they do the right thing.

Meral Clarke:

Absolutely, because they're certainly not doing it now. It needs to be done. And thank you for your passion of ensuring that all Georgians are taken care of in this regard, because you're right, it's essential. And it's a bottom line with our wallets. In our pocket books. It's just so important to make sure that insurance companies aren't running roughshod. And as leader Abrams, like say we recently interviewed her and she is tremendous as well, but as she likes to say it's not just an The fact that Georgia should be the number one place to do business, it should also be the number one place to live.

Janice Laws Robinson:

And I say I want it to be the number one state to be insured in, yes, people are happy to be insured in Georgia and they're taken care

Meral Clarke:

of. And that's not the case now correct?

Janice Laws Robinson:

Not at all. We are one of the highest in the country for automobile rate increases, we our rates are just a little rough across the board.

Meral Clarke:

You're right, that is unacceptable. So I'm with you there. You also have something called your education and empowerment campaign that your campaign is very proud of, and rightfully so what does this mean? What does your education and empowerment campaign do? And how can we ensure that all Georgia residents are aware of their rights when it comes to insurance rates?

Janice Laws Robinson:

That's a great question. And we touched on some of it earlier by just traveling the state part of my campaign is really to educate Georgians across the state to let them know that we do have an insurance commissioner what the insurance commissioner does or is supposed to do. And one of my plans when I do get elected is to have regional offices throughout the state to make sure that people have resources and access to the office, we will have town halls, educational tools and access just to really make sure not only are we educating the consumers about the role of the insurance commissioner, but also that they really understand how to purchase insurance, the importance of insurance, that when they think of insurance, they know that the insurance commissioner is the first stop, and to make sure that they have the right information. And they trust us to educate them, empower them to make the right choices, whether that's of insurance companies, agents, brokers adjusters, we are going to be very innovative and creative and using technology to educate Georgians on insurance and the importance

Meral Clarke:

of insurance. Terrific, and it's just such a vital service. So is there anything else that you wanted to add about your run? I know this is your second run for the office of insurance commissioner? Why did you decide to run again?

Janice Laws Robinson:

Yeah, so I'm committed to being Insurance Commissioner, I see that as a licensed insurance professional, working with Georgians for more than two decades. And as I've worked with Georgians, a lot of my clients have become my family. I have done everything I know to do as an agent. And I've worked with them to save them money to advise them properly in terms of the right types of policies to just really support them the best they can. But I see the insurance commissioners role as the highest and best use of my service to the community and to the insurance consumers. Because I feel like I could do the most good for the most number of people versus just being an agent because a lot of times as an agent, I felt powerless. When my customers called and said, Why is my life I just had a rank increase in six months ago, I'm having another one. And you know, by the time it gets to that level, it's already done. This is so it's happening at the state level. So that's where I see I can bring my experience, my talents, my passion, my commitment to do the greatest good for the most amount of people. That's why I'm running again, because the job is not done. We know I came within three percentage points in 2018. Jim back who won my race, he went to prison. So now we have a handpicked appointed Commissioner by Kemp, who is doing absolutely nothing. So for me having over 1.8 million Georgians voting for me in 2018, at was my absolute duty to run again, and to give it another go, because we still have the same issues. They're even worse, and it's getting worse by the day. So I need to work with leader Abrams and all the Democrats to flip this state. So there's no way I could sit on the sidelines. I just that just was not going to happen.

Meral Clarke:

And we're fortunate to have you we certainly are as Democrats and I hope everyone listening to this podcast takes note that it's so very important to have people who will be serving Georgians interests and not business interests in our state and that makes a huge difference. So if someone wants to get involved with your campaign, if they wanted to donate or volunteer or just learn more about you, where

Janice Laws Robinson:

I would send them to my website and they would you send them? can do all of the above at JANICE. And that's J A N I C E, f o r georgia.com. And it's georgia spelled out.

Meral Clarke:

Terrific. And on that website, people can learn more about you and more about your campaign and more about your priorities and campaign issues,

Janice Laws Robinson:

and donate and sign up to volunteer. Yes,

Meral Clarke:

all very, very important. We're going into the it's homestretch now toward November 8. So we need to make sure that we have all hands on deck. And finally, Janice, and I ask all my guests this question. They tell me it's the hardest question to answer, especially with my overachievers such as yourself. But tell us a fun fact about yourself something not necessarily related to your background, your work or even your campaign. Tell some fun just about Janice.

Janice Laws Robinson:

Oh, my goodness. I know. It's a tough one. I love to dance.

Meral Clarke:

That's fun.

Janice Laws Robinson:

I think I'm a good dancer. So what are they? How many? Are they doing dance for you?

Meral Clarke:

I would pay good money to see a video of you dancing. Where do you normally go?

Janice Laws Robinson:

I'm in my house. I can't risk me recorded and going viral.

Meral Clarke:

I bet you know, I follow you on Facebook. So I bet you are a terrific dancer. And it certainly doesn't surprise me knowing your passion and your love of life and everything else that you are janice. So. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for everything that you do. Thank you for joining us today and sharing more about your critical work in candidacy to advance democratic goals and policy and ensure that all of Georgia's citizens are protected. I'm Meral Clarke and on behalf of our team, I'd like to thank everyone for listening to the North Georgia Blue Podcast. To learn more about us in the work that we're doing. Visit us online at Fannin County, Georgia democrats.com Share the North Georgia Blue Podcast with your friends and family and be sure to subscribe and follow and if you enjoy our podcasts be accounting patron and friend of the show at North Georgia blue podcast.com/patron with three different giving levels to choose from offering cool swag recognition on the show and website and valuable gift cards to help us continue getting into more good trouble.