City officials decry insurance initiative

Published on

The Daily News of Los Angeles

A group of Los Angeles officials joined Tuesday with a leading taxpayer advocate to protest a proposed initiative to roll back provisions of Proposition 103, which governs auto-insurance premiums in California.

City Councilmembers Wendy Greuel, Bill Rosendahl and Janice Hahn along with Harvey Rosenfield called on Mercury Insurance Co. to withdraw its measure, which would allow insurance companies to set premiums based on where the insured live.

“Seventeen years ago, the voters of California spoke out and took matters in their own hands because of the actions of insurance companies,” said Rosenfield, head of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights and the author of Proposition 103.

“Today, they are facing a new threat, and the insurance industry will learn that voters do not want any changes.”

The initiative Mercury proposes to put on the November ballot would delay the Proposition 103 provisions scheduled to take effect this year requiring companies to offer insurance based on a motorist’s driving record.

“According to Mercury Insurance, a ‘good driver’ living in South Los Angeles should pay more than a good driver living in Westwood, simply because of where they live,” Greuel said.

Rosendahl said insurance rates for black and Latino women are as much as 16 percent more than for white women because of where they reside.

“Car insurance should be determined by a person’s driving record, not a person’s place of residence,” Rosendahl said.

Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi said he also opposes the proposed initiative.

“It would undo all that has been done under Proposition 103, taking California from one of the highest cost states to get insurance to one of the lowest,” Garamendi said. “This is just an attempt by one company to benefit itself at the expense of California motorists.”

Officials with Mercury did not return telephone calls.

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