Insurance agent Brenda Cervantes, 31, of Oxnard, Calif., and unlicensed employee Edith Arellano-Quinones, 39, of Ojai, were arraigned on Tuesday on misdemeanor counts of insurance fraud after allegedly selling auto insurance without proper licensing and putting their customers’ coverage and information at risk.

Investigators from the California Department of Insurance reportedly conducted undercover visits to a number of Victoria’s Auto Insurance Services in Ventura County to obtain quotes for insurance services.

Investigator visits, along with interviews with employees and customers, reportedly revealed Arellano-Quinones was operating and supervising a branch of Victoria’s Auto Insurance Services in Oxnard without being properly licensed as an insurance agent. Arellano-Quinones was previously licensed by the CDI, but surrendered her license in 2008.

Arellano-Quinones allegedly illegally used login credentials from various insurance companies provided by Cervantes, a licensed insurance agent who also worked for Victoria’s Auto Insurance Services. Cervantes provided these login credentials to several employees who were not licensed to provide quotes to customers, according to CDI investigators.

The investigation also determined Arellano-Quinones was knowingly, and at the direction of Cervantes, providing insurance advice and recommendations without a license.

Cervantes and Arellano-Quinones pleaded not guilty and will return to court on Nov. 2. The CDI is taking action against Cervantes’ license. The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting this case.

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Nikolay Storonsky is the founder and CEO of fintech start-up, Revolut.

Revolut, the biggest European digital bank with 13 million users, is close to applying for a banking license in the U.S., CNBC has learned exclusively.

The London-based fintech firm plans on applying for a charter with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and California’s Division of Financial Institutions within weeks, said people with knowledge of the matter.

The move from Revolut, valued at $5.5 billion in a February fundraising round, is the latest example of one of a new breed of digital challengers seeking to become a regulated bank. In March, payments giant Square won approval to start a bank. Earlier this year, Lending Club, a fintech pioneer, bought Radius Bank for $185 million in part to gain a national bank charter.

Even though Revolut’s bank charter will be with California, it will allow the lender to operate widely throughout the U.S. via interstate agreements, said one of the people, who declined to be identified speaking about the start-up’s private plans.

Still, its move to apply for a state banking charter rather than one through a national regulator like the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency drew questions from some industry observers.

The U.S. financial regulatory regime is large and fragmented, and fintech startups have taken several different approaches to breaking into the market. The most successful so far, like Chime and Current, have simply partnered with existing banks.

Square’s bank will be an industrial-loan company based in Utah and supervised by the Utah Department of Financial Institutions and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Last month, cryptocurrency exchange Kraken Financial won a bank license in Wyoming.

Meanwhile, state financial regulators have clashed with the OCC over its move to create a special charter for fintech firms.

Chad

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Wildfire season is well underway, with wildfires scorching a record breaking number of acres up and down California, and the peak of the season is yet to come. Mercury Insurance (NYSE: MCY) today announced two new programs the company is launching to help Californians better protect their homes and families if they live in areas prone to wildfires. Homeowners who take one or more steps to either harden their homes against wildfires or live in a community recognized by the National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA) as a Firewise USA® site will be eligible to receive discounts of up to 18%.  And, homeowners who have a California Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) Plan policy are now able to strengthen their protection with Mercury’s new difference-in-conditions endorsement, which fills the gaps in their FAIR Plan coverage.

Mercury Insurance is one of the first companies to offer wildfire mitigation discounts to California homeowners living in the wildland urban interface. Homeowners who take property and community wildfire prevention measures could be eligible to save up to 18% on the wildfire premium portion of their insurance policy.

“We’re in this together, which is why Mercury is engineering solutions to encourage proactive actions that better protect homeowners from wildfires,” said Jane Li, Mercury Insurance’s director of product management. “It’s important for homeowners in these areas to take proactive steps to help shield their property from fire, and it’s just as important for everyone in the community to work together to reduce their shared ignition risks, which could save them money and improve their insurance eligibility.”

The property level discount applies to policies for hardened home structures and landscapes with sufficient defensible space. Installing a class “A” rated roof, using siding made of stucco, metal or

Campaign finance records fall quickly these days, as big money gets bigger and new records are set each election cycle. Still, what’s happening in 2020 is staggering.

According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, over $3 billion has been raised so far for the presidential race, breaking previous records, and “dark money” groups whose largesse is harder to track are spending “unprecedented amounts of money to influence the 2020 election.” Deep blue California won’t see Donald Trump or Joe Biden on this year’s campaign trail, but its deep-pocketed donors from both parties are playing huge parts in the race for the White House.

And it’s not just federal spending charting new territory. Money to sway voters on statewide ballot measures is also flowing fast, with more than a half-billion dollars spent so far, according to an analysis by this news organization — the bulk of that on just three hotly contested propositions.

And there’s more than three weeks left before Election Day.

Here’s a look at where that big money comes from, and where it’s going:

 

Five mega-donors spent more than $100 million total electing Democrats

  1. Tom Steyer – $57,502,386
  2. Karla Jurvetson – $22,961,590
  3. George Marcus – $10,518,200
  4. Reid Hoffman & Michelle Yee – $9,583,374
  5. Edythe & Eli Broad – $6,178,800

The top five California contributors to Democrats have spent over $106 million on presidential and congressional races so far in the 2019-2020 federal election cycle, as of the first week of October.

The biggest individual spender from California is Tom Steyer, who funneled tens of millions of dollars into his own unsuccessful presidential campaign, as well as efforts to undermine and unseat President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress. The second biggest contributor is Karla Jurvetson, a Silicon Valley-based doctor and Democratic fundraiser who spent more than $14

The ballot measure, known as Proposition 22, would establish drivers as an independent class of workers with access to limited job benefits, along with wage and worker protections they’ve so far lacked under the gig economy model. Labor groups and many of driver advocates say the companies’ efforts, however, do not go far enough to protect workers and are merely an attempt, cloaked in friendly marketing materials, to quash a new law that would guarantee drivers access to the minimum wage, employer-provided health care and bargaining rights.

Drawing on a more than $186 million campaign war chest that Uber, Lyft, food delivery app DoorDash and other tech companies have raised, they are seeking to convince California voters that the ballot initiative reflects the will of drivers. They’ve cited limited survey data saying the vast majority of drivers want to remain contractors.

But critics see the measure as a last-ditch effort to strong-arm a tough law.

The gig companies are following a long history in California of powerful groups “manipulating the way the public understands propositions,” said Veena Dubal, an associate professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, who focuses on the gig economy and is an advocate for classifying drivers as employees in California. “They are working to trick the public … into voting in favor of this. And they’re getting traction.”

The heated battle could well result in major implications for gig workers not just in California, but across the country.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is the current status of drivers?

In most of the country, drivers are independent contractors who are able to work for Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart and others on demand. That comes with pros such as flexibility. But it also means there are no guaranteed hours or health