In the race for Georgia’s next insurance commissioner, one issue has taken center stage: auto insurance costs. Incumbent Republican John King and Democratic nominee Janice Laws Robinson have starkly different approaches to tackling this pressing concern. While King emphasizes the need to strike a balance between consumer protection and maintaining a viable insurance market, Robinson argues that King’s efforts have been ineffective and vows to do a better job of curbing rising premiums for Georgia drivers. Let’s delve into the details of this downballot race and explore the candidates’ positions on auto policy costs.

The Importance of Auto Insurance Costs

As Georgia’s insurance regulator, the elected commissioner not only oversees insurance matters but also investigates fires and regulates building safety. However, it is the issue of auto insurance costs that has captured public attention. According to the Insurance Information Institute, Georgia had the 10th highest average premiums in 2019, with an average premium of $1,259.49. This ranking represents a significant increase from being the 13th most expensive state in 2017.

King’s Approach: Protecting Consumers and the Insurance Industry

Incumbent commissioner John King, appointed by Governor Brian Kemp, presents himself as a consumer advocate while also aiming to maintain a healthy insurance industry. Although Georgia allows insurers to set most auto rates without advance approval from the commissioner, King claims that most companies still seek approval voluntarily. He argues that this system gives his office the opportunity to examine loss figures and negotiate rates. King points out that no insurer has received the rate increase they requested, highlighting his efforts to protect Georgia drivers.

However, King acknowledges that some rate increases are necessary to prevent insurers from suffering financial losses. He believes that his primary role is to strike a balance between consumer protection and the industry’s stability. King also expresses a desire to tighten the provision that allows rate increases without approval, addressing concerns raised by the recent 40% rate hike by Allstate Corp. Nonetheless, Robinson contends that the commissioner already possesses the power to challenge rate increases under existing state laws.

Robinson’s Approach: Aggressive Regulation and Non-Discriminatory Practices

Democratic nominee Janice Laws Robinson, a seasoned insurance broker, brings a different perspective to the table. Having previously run for the same position in 2018, she argues that King and his predecessors have failed to take effective action to address rising auto insurance costs. Robinson pledges to implement more aggressive regulation of insurers’ rate-setting practices and coverage offerings.

Drawing from her experience as an insurance agent, Robinson asserts that insurers may use data in a way that discriminates against certain groups, including nonwhite individuals, the elderly, and LGBTQ individuals. She promises to challenge these practices and ensure fair treatment for all consumers. Robinson’s focus on non-discriminatory practices aligns with her broader commitment to social equality and inclusivity.

The Role of the Insurance Commissioner’s Office

The insurance commissioner’s office plays a crucial role in Georgia’s insurance market. In addition to regulating auto insurance rates, the commissioner investigates fraud and ensures compliance with safety standards. Under King’s leadership, the office has undergone significant changes, aiming to address previous inefficiencies and scandals. These improvements include enhanced efforts to combat insurance fraud and improved response times for fire investigations.

Robinson, however, argues that King’s claim of effectively cleaning up the office is unsubstantiated. She contends that the last three insurance commissioners, including King, have failed to take decisive action on rising auto insurance costs. Robinson points out that the existing laws grant the commissioner the power to intervene in rate-setting practices, implying that the office’s past inaction is a result of a lack of initiative rather than legal limitations.

The Controversy Surrounding Allstate’s Rate Increase

The issue of auto insurance costs gained significant attention when Allstate Corp. announced a 40% rate increase in a single year. King expressed his anger and disappointment at this decision, emphasizing that Georgia has allowed insurers to set rates without advance approval since 2008. However, he clarified that his office still has the authority to negotiate rates and protect consumers’ interests. King reassured the public that no other insurance company has received the rate increase they desired, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a balance between consumer protection and the industry’s stability.

Robinson, on the other hand, argues that King’s response to Allstate’s rate increase is indicative of a broader pattern of inaction by the insurance commissioner’s office. She claims that the office has consistently failed to utilize its existing powers to challenge rate increases. Robinson believes that there is more the commissioner can do to protect Georgia drivers from excessive premiums.

The Backgrounds of the Candidates

John King, the incumbent commissioner, assumed the role after Governor Brian Kemp appointed him in 2019 following the indictment of former Commissioner Jim Beck. King’s permanent appointment followed Beck’s conviction in 2021 for embezzling over $2.5 million from the state-chartered insurer. As the first Hispanic statewide official in Georgia, King has sought to revamp the office, addressing past inefficiencies and implementing reforms.

Janice Laws Robinson, the Democratic nominee, is an insurance broker from Coweta County. She previously ran for the position of insurance commissioner in 2018, losing to Beck. Robinson’s experience as an insurance agent has shaped her perspective on the industry and its practices. She advocates for stronger regulation to ensure fair treatment for all consumers, particularly those who may be vulnerable to discriminatory practices.

Divergent Views on Healthcare Policy

In addition to their positions on auto insurance costs, King and Robinson also differ when it comes to healthcare policy. King supports Governor Kemp’s plan to sell federally subsidized individual health insurance policies through private brokers, a departure from the federal marketplace established under the Affordable Care Act. Robinson has not explicitly stated her position on this plan. However, she has expressed support for expanding the state-federal Medicaid program to cover all adults and increasing the number of companies offering policies on the federal marketplace.

Georgia’s Insurance Market Landscape

Georgia’s insurance market consists of numerous insurers offering a range of policies. Most counties in the state have at least three insurers, with some areas having only two or even one insurer available. The state government has made efforts to ensure a competitive market, but challenges remain, especially in the southeastern part of the state. Robinson aims to address these disparities by expanding the number of companies offering policies on the federal marketplace.

Campaign Funding and Support

As of September 30, 2022, John King has raised $1.18 million for his campaign, receiving contributions from various insurance interests. In contrast, Janice Laws Robinson has raised $123,000. Despite the substantial difference in funding, Robinson maintains strong grassroots support and remains determined to challenge the status quo.


The race for Georgia’s insurance commissioner is primarily centered around the issue of auto insurance costs. Incumbent John King emphasizes the need to protect consumers while maintaining a viable insurance industry, while Janice Laws Robinson promises more aggressive regulation to curb rising premiums. As the election approaches, Georgia voters will have the opportunity to decide the direction of the state’s insurance regulatory policies. Regardless of the outcome, addressing auto policy costs will remain a critical issue for the elected commissioner, impacting the lives of Georgia drivers.