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Oklahoma insurance commissioner race focuses on rate hikes

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak will face Bill Viner, a newcomer to Oklahoma politics, who works as an auditor for the Oklahoma Tax Commission in the Republican primary June 24.
by Brianna Bailey Published: June 15, 2014
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Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak will face Bill Viner, a newcomer to Oklahoma politics, who works as an auditor for the Oklahoma Tax Commission, in the Republican primary June 24.

Doak has no Democratic opponent, so the outcome of the primary will determine the statewide race.

Viner is a Moore resident who worked for the Oklahoma Insurance Department for about 10 years in the 1990s and served as chief examiner for the department at one time. He also worked for several years as senior examiner for the Nevada Division of Insurance.

Viner said he is running for Insurance Commissioner because his homeowners’ insurance premium has skyrocketed over the past several years, a 40 percent increase this past year.

Oklahomans pay some of the highest homeowners’ insurance rates in the nation, in part because of the state’s propensity for severe weather, but Viner said he believes the kind of rate increases the state has seen over the past several years are excessive.

“In a nutshell, I want to regulate insurance rates in the state,” Viner said. “That’s what I think is the main job of the insurance commissioner. I think companies can be called upon to justify their rates and their policy provisions, which always seem to favor the companies.”

Viner had yet to file a donor disclosure statement with Oklahoma Ethics Commission, but said he is running his campaign with essentially no money.

He has no website, has done a few radio interviews and has some black and white photocopied fliers that he is distributing to voters.

Viner said that he will not take campaign contributions from the insurance industry.

“Doak’s contributors are insurance companies, insurance company lobbyists, special interest groups, I want to remain independent,” Viner said. “Obviously, I don’t have very much money, but I am going to stick with that because I believe an insurance commissioner should remain independent.”

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by Brianna Bailey
Business Writer
Brianna Bailey has lived in Idaho, Germany and Southern California, but Oklahoma is her adopted home. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and has worked at several newspapers in Oklahoma and Southern...
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