The truth about

Consumer

Watchdog

Consumer Watchdog has tens of millions of reasons to oppose needed insurance reforms

Consumer Watchdog is not the consumer advocacy group it claims to be.

In reality, Consumer Watchdog operates as a publicity-seeking, dark money front that only looks out for its own interests and that of its secret funders. Consumer Watchdog cares about their bank accounts, not California consumers.

With California’s insurance market in crisis, and homeowners and businesses struggling to access coverage, Consumer Watchdog is opposing common sense reforms to protect their own bottom line.

WHY? Because Consumer Watchdog is aggressively guarding a self-serving regulatory process they inserted in Proposition 103 that allows them to drain millions and millions in fees for themselves — money ultimately paid for by California policyholders.

Get the facts
fact:

Consumer Watchdog has ZERO MEMBERS.

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Consumer Watchdog has raked in tens of millions of dollars in ‘intervenor fees’ thanks to the antiquated regulatory process they wrote into Prop 103 more than 35 years ago.

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Over the last five years, Consumer Watchdog accounted for almost 90% of all intervenor fees.

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In 2021 and 2022 alone, Consumer Watchdog brought in nearly $2 million in intervenor fees, paid for by California policyholders and insurance companies.

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Consumer Watchdog attacks anyone who questions the organization’s role or proposes needed reforms to California's insurance regulatory system. Most recently, it criticized Speaker Rivas and Democratic legislators for holding public hearings on insurance reform.

Fact Sheets

SINCE THE INTERVENOR PROGRAM BEGAN,

CONSUMER WATCHDOG HAS Drained MILLIONS AND MILLIONS FROM policyholders!

Intervenor Fees:

Printing Money for Consumer Watchdog

In addition to donations from special interests and pay-to-play payments, Consumer Watchdog reaps millions of dollars from something called “intervenor fees.”

Proposition 103 created the intervenor process – a process that allows consumers and organizations to participate in the ratemaking process by providing technical input. In return, the “intervenor” is awarded intervenor fees. While this process was originally intended to bring more transparency to the ratemaking process, Consumer Watchdog has exploited this process for their own financial gain. Consumer Watchdog often inserts themselves into rate filing cases – causing delays and adding costs to the rate-making process, often without providing any additional value to consumers. As a result, Consumer Watchdog extracts a fee from insurance companies and California policyholders as part of the deal. 

How did this happen?

Consumer Watchdog authored this provision for itself within Prop 103 to secure a self-sustaining funding source that couldn’t be challenged.

According to data from the Department of Insurance, Consumer Watchdog collects nearly 90 percent of the intervenor fees granted in the State of California since 2018. In fact, this year, Consumer Watchdog has filed 100% of all interventions to date.

But the group’s tactics are plain for all to see. They’re in the intervenor fee business not to represent consumers (since they have no consumer members).

A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge took Consumer Watchdog to task for just that reason.

According to court documents, Judge William F. Highberger blocked an attempt by Consumer Watchdog to intervene in the case and accused the group of engaging in “an opportunistic piece of objecting” designed either as a “public relations exercise' or as an attempt to get paid by delaying the settlement.”

Furthermore, Judge Highberger "called it 'another regrettable example of opportunism" and told Consumer Watchdog, "If this was such a good case, why didn't you guys bring it seven or eight years ago?" Another attorney lashed out at the group saying Consumer Watchdog's "only objective was "only to derail what has to be one of the greatest class action settlements of all time, given the hurdles."

Who’s Behind Consumer Watchdog?

Consumer Watchdog is not a membership-based organization; they have ZERO MEMBERS. Instead, this “consumer advocacy” organization goes to great lengths to conceal the identities of its funders – a stunning lack of transparency for a group that has amassed millions.

The reality is that Consumer Watchdog is available for hire.

In a stunning investigative revelation, The Los Angeles Times unveiled the secret supporters behind Consumer Watchdog, unmasking them as trial lawyers and special interests.

“Between 2012 and 2015, Consumer Watchdog accepted $260,000 in donations from Lehane’s group, a nonprofit called Main Street American Values. One $45,000 payment was made only weeks before Consumer Watchdog lent public support to one of Lehane’s clients.”

Jessica Levinson, a Loyola Law School professor who specializes in ethics and lobbying rules, further explains:

“It still appears that they [Consumer Watchdog] were saying favorable things about their funders. That’s the issue of transparency. Is Consumer Watchdog saying something because they believe it, or because it’s helpful to their funders?”

WHY IS CONSUMER WATCHDOG ACCEPTING CONTRIBUTIONS FROM dark money INTERESTS?

BECAUSE ITS HIGHLY PROFITABLE!

What Others Are Saying About Consumer Watchdog

  • “It's earned him [Jamie Court] a reputation as a complainer for hire, willing to tilt at anything that can earn his group intervenor fees.

    Politico
    October 19th, 2023

  • “But currently, one entity is involved in 75% of all intervenor rate filings – materially benefiting from a process that is meant for a broader public participation.”

    Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara
    September 21st , 2023

  • “The so-called intervenor process has become a significant source of revenue for the nonprofit founded by Rosenfield and its successor, Consumer Watchdog”

    Sacramento Bee
    January 13, 2017

  • "‘Watchdog is turning a blind eye to consumers’ needs while defending its own insurance piggy bank,’ Deputy Insurance Commissioner Michael Soller said in a statement.”

    San Jose Mercury News
    October 27, 2023

  • “While Consumer Watchdog sells cynicism to protect its own pocketbook, we are focused on solutions for all California,”

    San Jose Mercury News
    October 27, 2023

  • "Watchdog stands alone in earning millions of dollars from insurance companies which can be passed on to consumers under rules they wrote," he [Michael Soller, Deputy Insurance Commissioner] wrote in an email last week. "That explains why they are opposing changes, while groups representing actual consumers, farmers, homeowners associations and many others are in support."

    Politico
    November 1, 2023

  • "Consumer Watchdog last week acknowledged receiving $13.5 million in insurance fees over the last 22 years..."

    Los Angeles Times
    June 2, 2024

  • "...Consumer Watchdog got 96 percent of the fees the Insurance Department paid to intervenors last year, adding up to over $21 million for the group since 1988."

    POLITICO CA
    May 29, 2024

DON’T LET CONSUMER WATCHDOG CONTINUE TO DERAIL NEEDED REFORMS IN ORDER TO PROTECT THEIR PROFIT MACHINE.

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