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I know that the insurance industry likes to operate in the dark. It took a voter revolt at the ballot box and 20 years fighting to implement Proposition 103 to force insurers to open their books to the public and justify rates in California. But this report by the industry information service, ISO, takes the cake. They counsel insurance companies to increase profits by keeping the public in the dark. According to a report issued by ISO last week:

"Auto insurance fraud is perpetrated by those who are well informed on how rates are determined."

The informed consumer who wants to pay less, and is willing to do some research or switch companies to do it, is apparently a crook:

"Just type the words "automobile insurance reduce premium" into Google, and be prepared to receive a seemingly endless list of websites that provide tips on how to pay less for one's insurance. While many are legitimate, the typical site lists all the rating factors, making it clear which are open to misrepresentation. What is even more worrisome is that sites often encourage policyholders to switch companies and even coach them on how to get the lowest quote from a competitor."

Insurance companies should be the ones coaching customers on how to get the best deal. Instead, ISO recommends keeping them dumb so they pay what they're told.

I'm appalled. The insurance industry should condemn this outrageous attempt to brand informed consumers as criminals.