The Insurance Grinch
New Video: Insurance Billionaire George Joseph Is The Grinch;
Christmas Eve Attack of The 1% Exposed
(Santa Monica, CA) Consumer Watchdog Campaign has released a new video showing the 375th richest man in America, 90-year old insurance baron George Joseph, as the Grinch who stole Christmas.
The video points to the devious attack by the Chairman of Mercury Insurance on auto insurance customers who will face dramatic premium increases if George “The Grinch” Joseph has his way. Californians are currently protected against surcharges by auto insurance companies when they buy insurance after not driving for a time. Joseph has contributed $8 million to a November 2012 ballot measure that will allow such surcharges after a two decades old ban -- surcharging the long term unemployed, students at college, and those who have to take a bus because they cannot afford a car. The satirical video shows Joseph's plot to steal the gifts of consumer protections from Californian drivers.
This week Mercury Insurance found itself in the middle of another controversy after Consumer Watchdog intervened to stop a proposed $89 million auto insurance rate hike by Mercury, noting the company was inappropriately trying to milk consumers for $16 million spent on its failed initiative in June 2010, Prop 17, which also sought to surcharge consumers. Consumer Watchdog also noted that a company that claimed to want to give discounts to consumers shouldn't be raising rates by $89 million, which is a 6% increase for nearly two million California customers.
“How do you apply for an $89 million rate hike while at the same time telling consumers you are trying to give them a discount? What a Grinch,” said consumers advocate Brian Stedge. “Mercury Chairman George Joseph’s deceptive campaign to surcharge students who went away for college, Californians who previously used mass-transit, seniors and the long-term unemployed makes him this year’s Grinch.”
The Grinch video is part of a new website by Consumer Watchdog Campaign launched to educate the public about billionaire Mercury Insurance Chairman’s deceptive ballot initiative. The website is at www.stopthesurcharge.org.
George Joseph’s campaign to repeal current protections against his proposed surcharges is a repeat of his 2010 measure, Proposition 17, in which Mercury, the state's fourth largest auto insurer, spent $16 million but failed to win over voters who were not fooled by its deceptive advertising campaign. According to Consumer Watchdog, the renewed Mercury initiative would lead to surcharges of more than 40% for millions of Californians who had a prior lapse in insurance coverage or simply had not been driving for a time.
Under the proposed initiative, Californians who had chosen not to drive for a time and did not need insurance would be surcharged when a new job, move or some other circumstance requires them to buy insurance again. This unfair penalty would punish drivers with premium surcharges that could reach $1,000 a year or more just because they took a hiatus from their automobile.
Mercury claims to have made changes to the new measure that make it different than Proposition 17, but its changes are superficial, says Consumer Watchdog. Under current law, a good driver who had insurance in the past and a good driver who did not will be charged the same premium for auto insurance, all other things being equal. If the Mercury measure were law, drivers who did not have insurance continuously for the past five years – even if they didn’t need it because they did not have a car for a time – will pay a higher premium than those without a break in coverage.
“Adding a new hurdle to buying insurance, especially for people who have struggled financially, only means that more Californians will end up driving without insurance. That raises costs and concerns for everyone,” said Stedge.
For more information, please visit: www.stopthesurcharge.org.
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