Election 2012
10:00 am
Wed October 10, 2012

Proposition 33: Auto Insurance Premiums

We continue our look at next month’s California election ballot with Proposition 33. It would change state laws on auto insurance premiums.

If you’ve been with the same car insurance company for five-straight years or more, you’re probably getting some type of “continuous coverage” discount. But let’s say you wanted to switch to a different company. Right now in California, you can’t take that discount with you.

“Prop 33 would allow consumers to shop that discount to competing carriers," says Rachel Hooper, who is with the Yes on Prop 33 campaign. 

“It’s all about competition and California consumers deserve to be able to switch insurance carriers and keep their discount. It just makes sense.”

But not everyone agrees. “It just doesn’t make any sense," says Jamie Court, who opposes Prop 33. He’s President of Consumer Watchdog.

He points out the flipside of Prop 33 – insurance companies could increase your rates if you let your coverage lapse.

“Do we pay for milk because we didn’t buy it before? Do we pay more for gasoline because we didn’t buy it before?”

Court says Prop 33 penalizes people who end their coverage for legitimate reasons.

“If you’re a good driver and you decide to take mass transit because you can’t make ends meet or you go to college in another state and you don’t need a car you shouldn’t get hit with a very big surcharge when you come back and buy insurance in California.”

But Yes on Prop 33’s Rachel Hooper says that surcharge already exists and this measure exempts you from higher fees for lapsed coverage if you’re: in the military; are laid off or furloughed for no more than 18-months; or are still living with your parents.

“If you lapse payment on your car insurance today under California law for any reason you lose your discount. But under Proposition 33 we have all these protections," says Hooper.

But Prop 33 opponents say if you don’t fit those categories and let your coverage lapse, you’d be faced with even higher rates.

Billionaire insurance executive George Joseph has donated $16 million in support of Prop 33. The Mercury General Corporation chairman contributed the same amount to a similar initiative that was defeated two years ago.