No on Proposition 33 -- One company returns with same self-serving insurance measure voters already rejected in 2010
Editorial, LONG BEACH PRESS-TELEGRAM
Didn't Californians already vote down Proposition 33 -- the measure to make changes to the state's auto insurance law on the Nov. 6 ballot?
Essentially, yes -- in June 2010 when voters defeated Proposition 17.
The electorate didn't buy the pitch then that Mercury Insurance's chairman was spending $16 million to pass a measure just because he wanted consumers to save money on auto insurance.
And voters shouldn't buy it now that Mercury's billionaire boss George Joseph is back -- spending more than $8 million so far in support of of this self-serving measure.
It's a retread of the 2010 ballot proposition, and it deserves rejection too.
Proposition 33, like its predecessor, would make a change in the rules of Proposition 103, the 1988 measure that has saved Californians hundreds of millions of dollars on auto insurance.
Insurers currently can give a customer a discount based on how long the customer has carried auto insurance with that company. Proposition 33 would allow an insurer to give even a new customer a similar discount based on how long that customer has been covered continuously by other insurers. That much sounds good.
But the flip side is that it would allow higher rates for any customers who had gone without auto insurance for 90 days or more in the past five years, with exceptions for active military service or an unemployment period of up to 18 months. That would let insurers charge more for some of the customers least likely to be able to afford it.
That would include any first-time driver; someone who has been out of work more than 18 months and had to drop coverage and quit driving, but now is re-entering or trying to re-enter the work force; a student who saved money by not driving or carrying insurance while away at college, but who now needs to drive to get and keep a job; someone who didn't drive or carry insurance because of an extended illness, but now is well enough to resume; someone who has been using a bike or public transit to get around, but who now needs a car. Even those with perfect driving records would be penalized when they have to buy insurance again.
There is no good reason such people should be punished for their nondriving period. Once they need or are able to drive again, the law says they have to buy insurance. When they comply with that law, they should not be hit with a surcharge that could last five years.
One of the most irritating things about California's flawed initiative process is that any well-heeled special interest with an agenda can waste voters' time with a self-interested ballot measure, and bombard them with ads that make it sound as though it benefits the voters instead of the promoter.
Doubly irritating is when the special interest doesn't take no for an answer but wastes our time and his money on another attempt.
Voters should say no to Proposition 33. And this time Mercury Insurance should get the message.
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9/18/2012ArticleThe politics and the arguments of Proposition 33 are going to seem very familiar. The owner of Mercury Insurance wants to loosen... More >
9/19/2012ArticleCalifornia voters have a basic question to answer when deciding Proposition 33, a self-interested initiative funded by... More >
8/13/2012News ReleaseCourt Rejects Second Challenge to AG’s Neutral Ballot Language By Insurance Industry Backers of Prop 33Santa Monica, CA – The California Third District Court of Appeal summarily denied an appeal filed by the Mercury Insurance-... More >
8/17/2012News ReleaseLong Term Unemployed Targeted Under Prop 33 For Rate Hikes – NY Times Front Page Report Shows Face of Californians In Crisis Hurt By Ballot MeasureLos Angeles, CA --- A front page story in the New York Times about hundreds of thousands Californians who have been... More >